Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Warren Douglas, Adele Mara, William Frawley
THE INNER CIRCLE (1946). Director: Phil Ford.

Johnny Strange (Warren Douglas) is head of a one-man private detective agency called Action, Incorporated. He is about to place a newspaper ad for a secretary when in flounces Geraldine Smith (Adele Mara of Back From Eternity), who declares that the position has been filled -- by her. Johnny's next client is a mysterious Spanish woman who wears a veil and wants him to hide the body of her husband -- only this woman turns out to be Geraldine! Johnny narrowly avoids a murder rap but still has to find out the reason for Geraldine's deception, as well as who murdered the dead man, a blackmailing radio gossip host named Fitch. Suspects include Geraldine's sister, Anne (Martha Montgomery); singer Rhoda Roberts (Virginia Christine) and her boss, a nightclub owner cum hoodlum named Duke York (Ricardo Cortez); not to mention Fitch's housekeeper, Emma (Dorothy Adams) and grumpy gardener, Boggs (Will Wright). Johnny unmasks the killer by getting all of the suspects, along with amiable Lt. Webb (William Frawley), to enact a radio drama about the case live on the air. The Inner Circle is a very minor murder mystery, but Warren Douglas would have made a good hero for a P.I. drama a few years later (he produced such a show, The Files of Jeffrey Jones, but did not appear in it.) Douglas did play Peter Duluth in Homicide for Three. The performances are all good, with Virginia Christine [Judgment at Nuremberg] being especially snappy, and a tip of the hat to I Love Lucy's William Frawley, who eschews the stereotypical grumpy, snarling cop for one who is much more pleasant and much more efficient. This was the one and only appearance of "Johnny Strange" in the movies and on TV.  From Republic studios, the picture was well-shot by Reggie Lanning.

Verdict: Handsome Douglas makes a pretty good private eye. **1/2.


Gary R. said...

I'm an Old-Time Radio fan, so thanks for alerting me to this movie. It was obviously derived from a 1944 short-lived radio series called "Results, Inc.," starring Lloyd Nolan as Johnny Strange, and Claire Trevor as his secretary, named Terry Travers in the series. From the film's IMDb entry, it apparently even lifted a little bit of dialogue from the show's first episode. Interesting that Republic would see enough potential in such an unsuccessful series (it ran only 3 months) to base a movie on it. Maybe the studio initially hoped Nolan and Trevor would be willing to repeat their roles...?

P.S. Are you sure the actress in the screen grab isn't Virginia Christine?

William said...

Thanks for the background on this movie, Gary. It does sound as if Republic at least ripped off the concept of the radio show. Nolan and Trevor were certainly bigger names than the actors who were cast, but they possibly didn't want to work for Republic. Nolan's Mike Shayne movies were for Fox.

And that's definitely Adele Mara in the screen capture. Virginia Christine plays the nightclub singer and she never appears with Frawley until the very end.

I appreciate your comments and the info!