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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MICHAEL SHAYNE MYSTERIES (1940-42)

With the Charlie Chan unit winding down & the delightful MR. MOTO series over, Fox needed a fresh face to front their B-list crime detective vehicles and Brett Halliday’s Irish cop turned private eye filled the bill. Only the first of the series (MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE/’41) used a real Halliday plot, but Lloyd Nolan ’s raffish tough guy stance in the lead and some noirish elements in the series give the films some historic status as precursor to the darker post-WWII manner.

On this DVD set, disc No.2 has SLEEPERS WEST/’41 co-starring a warm-voiced Lynn Bari which features a clever mystery-witness-on-a-train story which anticipates the classic ‘B’ THE NARROW MARGIN/’52; and BLUE, WHITE AND PERFECT/’41 with a cruise ship setting, an effective surprise ending and unusually fine support including a winning turn from George (Superman) Reeves. This easily surpasses disc No.1, where MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE and THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T DIE/’42, have a forced comic tone that grates.

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