Remember, I watch these so that you don’t have to.
This came out in 1944, back when we lived in a town that didn’t have a movie theater. No TV, either. The title is Rogues Gallery, and that’s interesting on two points:
- There was a drama show on radio (remember, no TV) when I was a kid, and the title was Rogue’s Gallery. It featured this detective or some such person, and his name was Richard Rogue. Hence the title. It came after this movie, so we wonder where they got the idea for the movie.
- This movie has nothing anywhere near anything like a gallery full of rogues. We wonder where they got the title.
The opening credits show this was a production of PRC Pictures, Inc. Images are screen shots from the movie on Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia.
What this film is really about is the adventures, over a few short hours, of a wacky girl reporter and her photographer sidekick. They are Patsy Clark (Robin Raymond) and Eddie Porter (Frank Jenks), although Jenks gets top billing, because he’s a guy, you know. Their boss is City Editor Gentry (Edward Keane). The two headline hunters are sent off to get the scoop on a new invention.
People get killed in this movie, but it’s still played as comedy. Recall Greek comedy. The pair fail in their attempt to brush past the security at the Emerson Foundation Laboratory. The inventor, Professor Reynolds (H.B. Warner), refuses to see them. He is busy working on his invention. After they leave the professor is attacked in his lab, and the police are called. The plans for the invention have been stolen. Patsy and Eddie notice all the police traffic on the road heading back to the Emerson Foundation, and they follow the action.
Lurking about inside the building, looking for a story, Eddie encounters the thief, dashing about the corridors of the darkened building. The stolen plans go flying, and Patsy recovers them.
Do they return the stolen plans? No way. This is a great story. They head off in their car to have the plans analyzed by an engineer friend. Before they get there the culprit, identity still undisclosed, curbs their car and demands the plans. Instead, Eddie points his camera out the car window and fires the flash into the assailant’s face. They make their getaway.
Patsy’s engineer friend, Joe Seawell (Norval Mitchell), doesn’t know how the invention works, but he can tell it has something to do with eavesdropping from a distance. That is intriguing.
Patsy and Eddie now take the stolen plans back to the Emerson Foundation where they leverage their possession for a news scoop. Patsy gets the story and phones it in. Eddie starts to take a photo.
Just then the lights go out, and there is a gunshot. When the lights come back on Eddie is beneath an overturned couch, with the plans. Outside, on the terrace lies the body of Eddie Griffith (Earle S. Dewey). Patsy insists they phone Police Lieutenant Daniel O’Day (Robert Homans). When he arrives, the body is gone. It turns up in the the back passenger compartment of Eddie Porter’s car. When Patsy and Eddie drive the body to police headquarters to show Lieutenant O’Day, the body turns up missing again. It later turns up in O’Day’s car. (???)
Patsy figures one of the principles of the Emerson Foundation is the culprit, and she is able to identify him through the use of a recording made by Professor Reynolds’ invention. By then professor is already dead, murdered.
It turns out Eddie Porter has had a photo of the culprit all along. When he flashed their assailant through the car window he obtained a perfect image of the killer. Patsy and Eddie don’t get fired from the paper after all.
Yes, the plot is the definition of lame. They go to the lab, they leave the lab, the inventor is koshed, they return to the lab, the culprit is chased through the building. the plans go flying, Patsy grabs them, they head off to the engineer’s place, they get waylaid, the culprit doesn’t get the plans, the lights go out at the Foundation, there is a shot, Eddie keeps possession of the plans, Griffith is found dead, his body disappears and is subsequently found in Patsy’s car then disappears to be found later in O’Day’s car, Patsy figures out who did it.
Acting is flat. Direction is stilted. This was 1944. There was a war going on. James Stewart and Clark Gable were flying combat over Europe. Talent was hard to come by.