The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance


1h 16m 1941
The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance

Brief Synopsis

A reformed jewel thief fights to clear his name when he's framed for murder.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Mar 6, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the character created by Louis Joseph Vance.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,702ft

Synopsis

When Michael Lanyard, the reformed jewel thief known as "The Lone Wolf," and his butler Jamison accidentally set off a bank alarm while chasing a stray cat, Police inspector Crane, Lanyard's nemesis, bets him two months' salary that he cannot stay out of trouble for twenty-four hours. After accepting the bet, Jamison and Lanyard return to their hotel. Outside the building, Johnny Baker, the inventor of a burglar-proof mail car, meets a private detective and shows him a telegram from Johnny's fiancée, film actress Gloria Foster, asking him to meet her in room 909 of the hotel. Suspicious about the telegram, Johnny and the detective proceed to the room and there are assaulted by two men. Climbing onto the fire escape, the private detective knocks on the window of the adjoining room for help. Lanyard, the room's occupant, thinks that it is an elaborate ruse concocted by Crane to win the bet and ignores the plea until he hears a gunshot and the detective falls to the ground, dead. Sneaking into the neighboring room, Lanyard witnesses Johnny being led away at gunpoint and finds Gloria's telegram on the floor. Realizing that Johnny is the only man who can exonerate him from the charge of murdering the detective, Lanyard sends Jamison to follow them. After Crane issues a warrant for his arrest, Lanyard escapes down the hotel's laundry chute and goes to the theater where Gloria is to perform. While waiting to see Gloria, Lanyard watches a newsreel featuring Johnny's burglar-proof car. When the film's narrator reports that the car will be carrying treasury engraving plates on its maiden voyage to San Francisco, and continues that if the proper combination, known only to Johnny, is not employed to open the car, poison gas will flood it, Lanyard realizes why Johnny was abducted. Lanyard then explains Johnny's peril to Gloria, and after Jamison informs him that he has tracked the men to the train station, Gloria offers to drive Lanyard to Perrytown, the next stop. After Johnny's abductors, Frank Jordan and Vic Hilton, tie Johnny to a stretcher and board the train, Jordan claims that Johnny is his sick brother and Hilton is their doctor. At Perrytown, Gloria and Lanyard meet Jamison on the train. The conductor, however, recognizes Lanyard from his picture in the paper and notifies Crane. As Lanyard attempts to sneak into the compartment to free Johnny, Jordan accosts him and alerts the conductor to Lanyard's intrusion. When Lanyard challenges Jordan's claim that the man on the stretcher is his sick brother, the conductor summons Dr. Hooper Tupman, a passenger in the adjoining compartment, to verify the diagnosis. After Tupman, who is in league with the others, confirms the patient's illness, the conductor takes Lanyard and Jamison into custody, intending to turn them over to Crane at Coasterville, the next stop. Tupman overhears their conversation and decides to remove the plates and detrain before the police arrive. After the thieves kidnap Gloria from her compartment to prevent her from corroborating Lanyard's story, they leave the train with the stretcher and board a waiting ambulance. Soon after, Crane arrives and when Lanyard insists that Gloria can exonerate them, Crane knocks at the door of her compartment. Evelyn Jordan, one of the gang, opens the door and posing as Gloria, denies any acquaintance with Lanyard. Escaping once again, Lanyard and Jamison commandeer Crane's taxi after Evelyn and the others speed away in the ambulance. After their car runs off the road on a hairpin turn, Lanyard and Jamison continue on foot in the midst of a howling windstorm. Tracking the thieves to an abandoned house, they enter the building and discover a secret passage after Jamison falls through some loose floorboards near the front stairs. Following the passage, Jamison and Lanyard find the room in which Gloria is being guarded by Hilton. After overpowering Hilton, Lanyard sends Jamison and Gloria to town to find Crane. They arrive too late, however, because Crane has already traced Lanyard to the house. When Lanyard insists that Hilton can prove his story, they proceed to the room where Lanyard left Hilton, but he is now missing. Crane then arrests Lanyard, but as he accompanies him to the front door, the two men fall through the loose floor boards. After boosting Crane back upstairs, Lanyard escapes through the passageway and discovers the thieves' cellar hideout, where he is taken prisoner. When Lanyard watches Tupman extract the plates from the stretcher, he realizes that the thieves have locked Johnny inside his burglar-proof car, which is still onboard the train. Jamison, who has returned from town, meanwhile, removes a plug from the ambulance's engine, and when the vehicle won't start, the thieves stash the plates in the well. In the chaos, Lanyard escapes and after Jamison reattaches the plug and retrieves the plates, they speed away in the ambulance, leaving the thieves stranded along the roadside. When Jamison tells Lanyard that the police intend to break open the car at Gary, the next stop, Lanyard realizes that they must free Johnny, their only witness, before he is asphyxiated by poison gas. Noticing that the newsreel is playing at a local theater, Lanyard goes there and forces the projectionist to magnify the image so that he can read the combination as Johnny turn the dials. Meanwhile, the thieves, who have been picked up by Crane, protest their innocence. Chartering a plane to fly to Morgan's Junction, Lanyard boards the train there and frantically dials the combination to the car. Soon after, the train pulls into Gary and the workers begin to break open the car. As poison gas pours out, Lanyard uses the right combination, freeing Johnny in the nick of time. After Gloria and Johnny are reuinted, Jamison returns the plates to Crane and pays his debt with a stack of freshly printed banknotes.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Mar 6, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the character created by Louis Joseph Vance.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,702ft

Articles

The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance


In the fifth Lone Wolf picture to star Warren William, The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941), reformed jewel thief Michael Lanyard (a.k.a. The Lone Wolf) accepts a bet from Inspector Crane (Thurston Hall) that he can't stay out of trouble for 24 hours. Naturally, it takes less than 24 minutes for him to get mixed up in murder, stolen Treasury engraving plates and assorted chases. And of course, he becomes the prime suspect in all the criminal activities. It's a particularly lively episode which moves quickly and achieves a pleasing balance of laughs and mystery. Eric Blore is quite funny in his recurring role as Lanyard's butler Jamison, and the script even works in an "old dark house"-type sequence.

Warren William will always be most fondly remembered for his unforgettable performances in pre-Code favorites such as Beauty and the Boss (1932), Skyscraper Souls (1932), The Match King (1932), Employees' Entrance (1933) and Upperworld (1934), all of which are sometimes shown on TCM. William made his Lone Wolf pictures in the last decade of his career and life, playing the character nine times from 1939-1943. Following his final turn as Lanyard in Passport to Suez (1943), William made three more films, and interesting ones at that - Strange Illusion (1945), Fear (1946) and The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947) - before he died in 1948 of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. He was only 53.

Noted film historian William K. Everson wrote in his book The Detective in Film that of all the various bursts of Lone Wolf movies made since the original in 1917, "finally Columbia hit just the right note in 1939 by...concentrating on quality 'B' product and settling for Warren William as the star. The former Philo Vance and Perry Mason knew all the tricks of the trade, and the more free-wheeling Lone Wolf character gave him the chance to indulge in his real talent for comic and bizarre disguises.

"William's Lone Wolf films gradually surrendered to cheaper budgets but remained solidly entertaining, held together by the William personality and some interesting directors still on the way up... The casts were a veritable showcase for Columbia contractees, many of whom were eventually promoted to better things. Eric Blore's comedy as The Lone Wolf's gentleman's gentleman, even if a repetition of his more inspired work in Top Hat [1935], was consistently amusing."

In the supporting cast of The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance are Lloyd Bridges, in only his third feature and first credited role; Henry Wilcoxon, star and featured player of many a Cecil B. De Mille epic; and Thurston Hall, a character actor in the middle of a career spanning 1915-1958 in which he amassed over 250 credits in movies and TV. He played Inspector Crane in six of these nine Lone Wolf movies. Also keep a lookout for character actor Regis Toomey in a bit.

Director Sidney Salkow also directed the three previous Lone Wolf films. The New York Times liked this picture, declaring, "Mr. William is suave as ever."

Producer: Ralph Cohn
Director: Sidney Salkow
Screenplay: Earl Felton, Sidney Salkow; Louis Joseph Vance (stories)
Cinematography: John Stumar
Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Jerome Pycha, Jr.
Film Editing: Viola Lawrence
Cast: Warren William (Michael Lanyard), June Storey (Gloria Foster), Henry Wilcoxon (Jordan), Eric Blore (Jamison), Thurston Hall (Detective Inspector Crane), Don Beddoe (Sheriff Haggerty), Evalyn Knapp (Evelyn Jordan), Fred Kelsey (Detective Sergeant Wesley Dickens), William Forrest (Vic Hilton).
BW-75m.

by Jeremy Arnold
The Lone Wolf Takes A Chance

The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance

In the fifth Lone Wolf picture to star Warren William, The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941), reformed jewel thief Michael Lanyard (a.k.a. The Lone Wolf) accepts a bet from Inspector Crane (Thurston Hall) that he can't stay out of trouble for 24 hours. Naturally, it takes less than 24 minutes for him to get mixed up in murder, stolen Treasury engraving plates and assorted chases. And of course, he becomes the prime suspect in all the criminal activities. It's a particularly lively episode which moves quickly and achieves a pleasing balance of laughs and mystery. Eric Blore is quite funny in his recurring role as Lanyard's butler Jamison, and the script even works in an "old dark house"-type sequence. Warren William will always be most fondly remembered for his unforgettable performances in pre-Code favorites such as Beauty and the Boss (1932), Skyscraper Souls (1932), The Match King (1932), Employees' Entrance (1933) and Upperworld (1934), all of which are sometimes shown on TCM. William made his Lone Wolf pictures in the last decade of his career and life, playing the character nine times from 1939-1943. Following his final turn as Lanyard in Passport to Suez (1943), William made three more films, and interesting ones at that - Strange Illusion (1945), Fear (1946) and The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947) - before he died in 1948 of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. He was only 53. Noted film historian William K. Everson wrote in his book The Detective in Film that of all the various bursts of Lone Wolf movies made since the original in 1917, "finally Columbia hit just the right note in 1939 by...concentrating on quality 'B' product and settling for Warren William as the star. The former Philo Vance and Perry Mason knew all the tricks of the trade, and the more free-wheeling Lone Wolf character gave him the chance to indulge in his real talent for comic and bizarre disguises. "William's Lone Wolf films gradually surrendered to cheaper budgets but remained solidly entertaining, held together by the William personality and some interesting directors still on the way up... The casts were a veritable showcase for Columbia contractees, many of whom were eventually promoted to better things. Eric Blore's comedy as The Lone Wolf's gentleman's gentleman, even if a repetition of his more inspired work in Top Hat [1935], was consistently amusing." In the supporting cast of The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance are Lloyd Bridges, in only his third feature and first credited role; Henry Wilcoxon, star and featured player of many a Cecil B. De Mille epic; and Thurston Hall, a character actor in the middle of a career spanning 1915-1958 in which he amassed over 250 credits in movies and TV. He played Inspector Crane in six of these nine Lone Wolf movies. Also keep a lookout for character actor Regis Toomey in a bit. Director Sidney Salkow also directed the three previous Lone Wolf films. The New York Times liked this picture, declaring, "Mr. William is suave as ever." Producer: Ralph Cohn Director: Sidney Salkow Screenplay: Earl Felton, Sidney Salkow; Louis Joseph Vance (stories) Cinematography: John Stumar Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Jerome Pycha, Jr. Film Editing: Viola Lawrence Cast: Warren William (Michael Lanyard), June Storey (Gloria Foster), Henry Wilcoxon (Jordan), Eric Blore (Jamison), Thurston Hall (Detective Inspector Crane), Don Beddoe (Sheriff Haggerty), Evalyn Knapp (Evelyn Jordan), Fred Kelsey (Detective Sergeant Wesley Dickens), William Forrest (Vic Hilton). BW-75m. by Jeremy Arnold

The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance


A reformed jewel thief fights to clear his name when he''s framed for murder.

Producer: Ralph Cohn
Director: Sidney Salkow
Screenplay: Earl Felton, Sidney Salkow, Louis Joseph Vance (story)
Cinematography: John Stumar
Film Editing: Viola Lawrence
Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Jerome Pycha Jr.
Music: Sidney Cutner
Cast: Warren William (Michael Lanyard), Eric Blore (Jamison), June Storey (Gloria Foster), Thurston Hall (Detective Inspector Crane), Fred Kelsey (Detective Sergeant Dickens), Walter Kingsford (Dr. Hooper Tupman).
BW-76m.

The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance

A reformed jewel thief fights to clear his name when he''s framed for murder. Producer: Ralph Cohn Director: Sidney Salkow Screenplay: Earl Felton, Sidney Salkow, Louis Joseph Vance (story) Cinematography: John Stumar Film Editing: Viola Lawrence Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Jerome Pycha Jr. Music: Sidney Cutner Cast: Warren William (Michael Lanyard), Eric Blore (Jamison), June Storey (Gloria Foster), Thurston Hall (Detective Inspector Crane), Fred Kelsey (Detective Sergeant Dickens), Walter Kingsford (Dr. Hooper Tupman). BW-76m.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry for The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2563.