Classic Film Guide

The Falcon's Brother (1942)

The fourth film, and the transition, in the Falcon series

The Falcon (George Sanders) goes to meet his brother's boat, arriving from South America, only to find out that he's dead.  The police inspector (Cliff Clark) and his detective (Edward Gargan) rule it a suicide, by poison; the Falcon surreptitiously finds that it was murder. Sanders also discovers that the body isn't his brother, but doesn't let the bumbling police know.  Instead, he follows a woman who departed the ship after confirming that she knew his brother, but also did not reveal the identity of the body to the police.

The Falcon and his sidekick Lefty (not Goldy this time), played by Don Barclay, follow the woman to a fashion salon; she is the head fashion designer there. While Sanders watches her inspect an unusual ring in a back office, he witnesses her being shot dead, briefly struggles with the escaping assailant (causing the murder weapon to fall at her side), but then must flee himself when he hears the police coming.  The gun is removed by someone before the police arrive.  Upon exiting the building, Sanders sees the ring on the finger of someone in a car, which then runs him over, sidelining him until the end of film.

His brother (Tom Conway) takes over, working with Lefty and Marcia Brooks (Jane Randolph), a fashion reporter who didn't reveal Sanders' presence at the fashion salon to the police, to solve the mystery. Showing it's politically incorrect age, there are some dated scenes with the Falcon's Asian houseboy (Keye Luke - Charlie Chan's "No. 1 Son"), who speaks perfect English, mocking himself and his race by speaking "pigeon English" to obfuscate police and the women who pursue the Falcon.

The missing gun is found, having been hidden a couple of times in amusing places, and turns out to belong to the murdered woman's underling, Paul Harrington (James Newill).  However, he is cleared when the ballistics expert claims it's not the murder weapon.  Harrington remains under suspicion by Conway et al when they discover a link between his fashion magazine covers and the timing of some key events in the war.

About this time, Sanders recovers, learns of the magazine clues and figures out the significance of the ring just in time to save the day. The film ends in a way which facilitates Conway assuming the Falcon's duties from Sanders (who no longer wanted to continue the role) for the future films in the series.

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