Sleepers West


1h 14m 1941

Brief Synopsis

Detective Shayne is on a train headed for San Francisco with a surprise witness (Hughes) whom many on board would like to keep from testifying at a murder trial.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 14, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sleepers East by Frederick Nebel (Boston, 1933) and the character "Michael Shayne" created by Brett Halliday.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,500 or 6,642ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

As he waits in the Denver train station for the Comanche , which is bound for San Francisco, private detective Michael Shayne meets his old girl friend, reporter Kay Bentley. Shayne assures Kay that he is on an unimportant case, but actually he is escorting Helen Carlson, who is to be a surprise witness in a murder trial. After Shayne makes sure that Helen is safely aboard the train, he bumps into Kay again, and she introduces him to her fiancé, Tom Linscott. Tom is a lawyer with Wentworth Enterprises, and his boss, Caleb Wentworth, is running for governor of California. Shayne comments that Tom will most likely be made lieutenant governor if Wentworth wins, then feigns disinterest as Kay and Tom discuss a newspaper article about the impending murder trial. On the train is Callahan, a former thief whom Shayne arrested once, but who has since gone straight. The paper notes that the trial has been postponed until the arrival of a witness who can clear Callahan and expose political corruption surrounding the case. Soon after, Tom confers with Wentworth's private detective, Carl Izzard, who tells him that Shayne is hiding the witness, and that all of their careers will be destroyed if she testifies. Meanwhile, engineer McGowan drives the train dangerously fast so that he will not be late for his last run, and Helen talks a newly boarded passenger into bringing a drink to her cabin. The man is Everett Jason, a dry goods store owner who has left his overbearing wife and secure life in search of adventure in South America. While Tom tells Kay that Shayne is escorting the witness, Helen confesses her story to Everett. Helen reveals that after serving a year in jail on a trumped-up charge, she was out one night with Wentworth's son when he killed a nightclub owner. Wentworth threatened to revoke Helen's parole and send her back to jail if she testified against his son, and so she disappeared to Denver. After Callahan was framed, however, Helen was found by Shayne, who also threatened to tell the parole board of her whereabouts if she did not return to testify. Everett vows to help her, and the pair decide to run away to South America together. Meanwhile, the $10,000 that Everett has brought with him has been discovered by a porter, who exaggerates the amount until the railroad detective, George Trautwein, becomes convinced that an embezzler is aboard. As Trautwein searches for his criminal, Kay tries unsuccessfully to get Shayne to reveal Helen's location. Shayne is also threatened by Izzard, but before Izzard can use the gun he pulls, the train hits a truck and is derailed. When Everett tries to get help for the unconscious Helen, Kay finds her and after reviving her, pumps her for information. Kay promises to help Everett and Helen escape, then breaks her engagement to Tom, who she realizes has been using her to find Helen. Kay engineers Shayne's arrest, then escapes with Helen and Everett. After Trautwein shoots and wounds Izzard, who he thinks is the embezzler, Shayne escapes and follows Kay and the others to the farmhouse they stop at when their hired car breaks down. After Shayne proves that Kay was interested in helping them merely to get their story, Helen and Everett decide to face up to their responsibilites. Everett returns to his home, while Helen testifies and clears Callahan. Soon after the trial, Shayne takes Kay to a diner where he has gotten Helen a waitressing job. Impressed with Shayne's thoughtfulness, Kay agrees to stay in San Francisco and marry him.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 14, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sleepers East by Frederick Nebel (Boston, 1933) and the character "Michael Shayne" created by Brett Halliday.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,500 or 6,642ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Sleepers East. According to a October 7, 1940 Los Angeles Times news item, Lynn Bari was originally slated to play the role of "Helen Carlson," and Dean Jagger was considered for the male lead. Once Twentieth Century-Fox decided to make the film as part of the "Michael Shayne" series, Lloyd Nolan was cast in the lead, and Bari was cast in the role of "Kay Bentley." According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, some scenes in the picture were filmed at the Inglewood, CA train station. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, technical director Frank L. James was a former Los Angeles policeman. Twentieth Century-Fox first filmed Frederick Nebel's novel in 1933 as Sleepers East, which was directed by Kenneth MacKenna and starred Wynne Gibson and Preston Foster (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4138). For more information about the "Michael Shayne" series, consult the Series Index and see the entry above for Michael Shayne, Private Detective.