|Warren Douglas, Adele Mara, William Frawley|
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.