The Falcon's Adventure (1946)

FalconCountry: United States
Director: William Berke
Starring: Tom Conway, Madge Meredith, Edward S. Brophy, Robert Warwick, Myrna Dell, Steve Brodie, Ian Wolfe
Music: Paul Sawtell
Based on characters created by Michael Arlen

In spy stories, whether it be in books, film or television, there is one formula that gets repeated time and time again. It features a scientist who has invented a design or device that will change the world – you can substitute politician for scientist and information/knowledge for the device or formula. The point being, a man of learning has something that evil forces wish to acquire. This man is either kidnapped or killed at the beginning of the story.

Invariably, this scientist or politician has a beautiful daughter, grand-daughter or niece. She either wants him back, or is entrusted to get the device or plan into the hands of the good guys. Forgive the sexism in the next statement (I’m just reporting what I see and read), but she cannot do this on her own. She needs the assistance of a rugged male to do this. This rugged male can be a spy, but more often than not he is an innocent bystander who just gets drawn into the tangled web of intrigue.

Of course the bad guys come after the girl and the hero and a running battle takes place to ensure that goodness wins out in the end.

This story formula covers about 60% of all Eurospy films made in the ’60s. It was in the Nick Carter film, License to Kill, which I reviewed the other day. But it also in modern fare like The DaVinci Code. But the real heyday for this formula was the old black & white studio B-movies featuring characters such as The Saint, Bulldog Drummond and The Falcon. Which of course, brings me to The Falcon’s Adventure.

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The film opens at the Bradshaw Hotel, and within one of its rooms, the Falcon, Tom Lawrence (Tom Conway) and his pal, Goldie Locke (Edward Brophy) planning a fishing vacation. Goldie makes the Falcon swear that on this trip, he will not get tangled up with any dames – ‘cos we all know ‘dames is trouble’. The Falcon agrees. Armed with fishing rods, they leave their suite, but before they have even made it the length of the hall, the Falcon bumps into a young lady who is leaving her room. The young lady is Louisa Braganza (Madge Meredith), who happens to be the daughter of a Brazilian scientist, who has invented a new formula for creating industrial diamonds. Of course, the Falcon does not know this.

Goldie reminds the Falcon of his vow – no dames! So they head their separate ways. The Falcon and Goldie get into their car with their equipment, while Louisa hails a taxi. However the driver of the cab works for a criminal organisation who are after the formula. She gets in the vehicle, but quickly realises the driver is not taking her to the travel agency as requested, but out onto a country road.

But as the cab overtake the Falcon, Louisa calls for help and signals out the back window. Realising she is in trouble, the Falcon flattens his foot on the accelerator and gives chase. He catches the taxi and forces it off the road. The driver gets out and scarpers into the surrounding undergrowth.

Louisa asks to be taken back to the hotel, which of course, the Falcon does. There he meets Louisa’s father, Enrico Braganza, who explains everything. The formula and the villains after it. Within minutes of that meeting, Enrico Briganza is dead and the Falcon is the prime suspect, with the police hot on his trail. He is also entrusted with the formula, which he has to get safely to Miami.

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Over the film’s short one hour running time, The Falcon’s Adventure packs in a lot of action, albeit, as discussed above, in a predictable and formulaic fashion. But there is still a lot to enjoy – car chases, fist fights, crocodiles, villains to hiss, and a damsel in distress. What’s not to like?

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The Falcon's Adventure (1946)

The Falcon Steps In



I do not know too much about the Falcon, (I have never seen a film from the series – there was one – TheFalcon in Danger – on late night television this week, but being the ‘technical incompetant’ that I am, I botched the recording) but before I sign off of this series of posts about The Saint, I thought it was worth a brief introduction to the character. A snippet from the, Classic Film Guide.

After playing Simon Templar aka The Saint five times in an earlier RKO studio series, George Sanders played the similarly suave detective Gay Laurence (Americanized to Lawrence) in the first Falcon films before giving way to his older brother Tom Conway in the aptly titled fourth feature The Falcon’s Brother (1942). Conway then played Tom Lawrence a total of nine more times through 1946 to complete the original series, which actually had three “poverty row” additions that featured John Calvert as Michael Waring in the late 1940’s. Based on a story by Michael Arlen, the original entry in this “new” series titled The Gay Falcon (1941) not only featured Sanders but also actress Wendy Barrie, who’d appeared opposite the actor in three of the Templar mysteries including (Sanders’s last) The Saint in Palm Springs (1941). The Falcon character was so similar to RKO’s earlier B movie detective that The Saint’s creator Leslie Charteris sued the studio.

Wikipedia (yes, I know it’s not reliable) elaborates that Leslie Charteris even had a shot at reprehensible scallywag, The Falcon in the book, The Saint Steps In.

Sanders appeared in the first three Falcon films, which followed the Saint pattern so closely that author Charteris sued RKO for plagiarism. Charteris pokes fun at The Falcon in his 1943 novel, The Saint Steps In, with a character making a metafictional reference to the Falcon being “a bargain-basement imitation” of The Saint.

Wikipedia further goes on to suggest that The Falcon was created because the rights to The Saint character were too expensive.

The Gay Falcon is the first in a series of films about a suave detective nicknamed The Falcon. The 1941 B film was intended by RKO Radio Pictures to introduce a replacement for The Saint, after RKO decided that renewing the film rights to the latter character would be too expensive. George Sanders was cast in the title role; he had played The Saint in the prior RKO series.

So I would suggest that The Falcon is possibly The Saint in everything but name, and after all, the RKO Saint films weren’t following Charteris’ stories too faithfully to begin with.

After taking over from Sanders, Conway appeared in nine Falcon films, who was then followed by John Calvert for the last three films.

The Falcon films are:

• The Gay Falcon (1941)
• A Date with the Falcon (1941)
• The Falcon Takes Over (1942)
• The Falcon’s Brother (1942)
• The Falcon Strikes Back (1943)
• The Falcon in Danger (1943)
• The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943)
• The Falcon Out West (1944)
• The Falcon in Mexico (1944)
• The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
• The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)
• The Falcon’s Alibi (1946)
• Devil’s Cargo (1948)
• Appointment with Murder (1948)
• Search for Danger (1949)

The Falcon Steps In