Another Bad Movie

Number 4 in the Series

As promised, here is the other Philo Vance movie streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s Philo Vance’s Gamble from 1947. According to Amazon Video X-Ray, there were three Philo Vance films from PRC, and this was the first to be released (13 April) and the second to be shot (November 1946). Here is PRC.

From IMDb here is the cast:

  • Alan Curtis: Philo Vance
  • Vivian Austin: Laurian March (as Terry Austin)
  • Frank Jenks: Ernie Clark
  • Tala Birell: Mrs. Tina Cromwell
  • Gavin Gordon: Oliver Tennant
  • Cliff Clark: Inspector Walsh
  • James Burke: Lt. Burke
  • Toni Todd: Geegee Desmond
  • Francis Pierlot: Roberts the Butler
  • Joseph Crehan: Dist. Atty. Ellis Mason
  • Garnett Marks: Charles O’Mara
  • Grady Sutton: Mr. Willetts
  • Charles Mitchell: Guy Harkness
  • Joanne Frank” Norma Harkness
  • Dan Seymour: Jeffrey Connor

The opening shot shows arch villain and generally worthless person Jeffrey Conner admiring a recent acquisition at his desk at his spacious home. It’s a magnificent emerald, which has been stolen and smuggled into the country.

He shows it off to his main squeeze, the unfortunate Geegee Desmond. Neither Conner nor Desmond are to survive the movie, but suffice it to note Conner has promised to take the guileless Miss Desmond with him to Europe. Actually, he plans no such thing. We see him phone up and purchase a single ticket to Bogota. To keep her on a leash, he hands her the two steamship tickets he has purchased.

After she leaves, Conner secretes the gem inside a jar of skin creme, tamping it down with a pencil from his desk, and wiping the end of the pencil with his handkerchief.

This is out in Los Angeles, and Philo Vance is visiting on business with his partner in the detective business, Ernie Clark. They thought they had an appointment with the district attorney, but the D.A. knows nothing of such an appointment, so the two are leaving when in walks Laurian March, an aspiring actress and an acquaintance from New York City. She has come to the see the D.A. on a matter, but she leaves with the two and never talks to the D.A.

Laurian tells Philo she came to see the D.A. because Conner has a shady deal going, something to do with a stolen emerald. She tells Philo that Conner is saying he retained Philo to safeguard the gem. This is the first Philo has heard of any such association, so he pays Conner a visit at his home. Philo leaves Ernie waiting in the car. On his way in he meets the butler’s bright little niece. She has a toy pistol with a compartment in the grip for storing pieces of hard candy. This will be critical to the plot.

Philo confronts Conner. Conner pulls a pistol and announces he will now use it to shoot Philo. Philo reminds him that would be unwise, since there is a witness. He has noticed somebody lurking behind a curtain.

For the first of three times in this movie we see the barrel of a pistol pointing from a place of concealment.

The lights go out. Conner fires. Philo dodges. The other gun fires. Conner is dead. Somebody slugs Philo on the head and departs.

The police come. While Philo has been out cold on the floor, somebody has taken the ticket to Bogota that Conner showed to Philo, and they have left the two steamship tickets. The flight leaves Burbank Airport at midnight. The police let Ernie go while they question Philo. Philo instructs Ernie to go to the airport and bring back the person who shows up with the missing plane ticket. It’s Geegee Desmond. Ernie handcuffs her to a chair and begins to question her. She knows a lot, and she is ready to talk.

While Ernie’s back is turned the barrel of a pistol pokes out from a place of concealment.

A silencer muffles the shot and Ernie is surprised as Geegee slumps dead.

Two of the co-conspirators discuss the faltering scheme.

Police are cleaning up the mess at Conner’s house. Philo is there. He picks up a pencil from Conner’s desk. He smells face creme.

He retrieves the emerald from the jar of face creme, and when the butler’s niece comes in with soot on her face, he uses some of the creme to clean her face. He hides the emerald in the candy compartment of her toy pistol.

Outside, Philo cons the little girl into giving up the pistol. He and Ernie will order a special holster for it.

Philo returns to his apartment to find it ransacked. He suspects one of the perpetrators is still inside. He turns of the lights and pretends to leave. When a woman comes out Philo pulls a pistol and confronts her. Her partner comes up from behind with his own pistol. Ernie comes up from behind with his own pistol. This is some kind of Mexican standoff. An armistice is declared.

Meanwhile, Laurian is pitching woo at Philo. It gets heavy.

Just then, Laurian spots the barrel of a pistol poking from a place of concealment. She pushes Philo to the side, and the bullet passes between the two. Philo is down one ceramic lamp.

Philo suspects who is behind all this. He has Oliver Tennant, one of the conspirators, arrange a meeting at the home of the late Mr. Conner. Laurian shows up unexpectedly. Philo and Laurian are making kiss-kiss when Oliver Tennant shows up. He thought he and Laurian had a private thing and is dismayed at her lack of loyalty. Actually, he forgot to tell the other conspirators about the meeting. He has plans to get rid of Philo and take the gem. He pulls a pistol and prepares to shoot.

Laurian has her own piece, and she pulls it and kills Tennant. Philo takes her pistol and leaves it on Conner’s desk. When he tells Laurian he has figured out she is the one who killed Conner and Geegee, she picks up the pistol and attempts to shoot him.

But he has pocketed the cartridges.

The butler’s niece shows up, and Philo and Ernie give her back her toy pistol with a new holster.

Philo opens the candy compartment and extracts the gem.

Philo lied to Laurian about Tennant’s pistol. He has confirmed it is the weapon used in the previous two murders, but he tells Laurian Tennant had never used it. Tennant did not know he was supposed to disengage the safety. Ernie picks up the pistol and accidentally fires it, twice. The safety never was engaged.

Don’t believe any of this plot. Philo confronts Conner in his office in his house. Conner is going to shoot Philo right then and there. Why? At this point Philo poses no real threat beyond any currently confronting him. And in his house? In his office? He’s never going to be allowed to get on that flight to South America with police swarming all over. Remember, Ernie is waiting outside, and the butler is still on the premises.

Too many times the barrel of a pistol pokes from a place of concealment and lets off a shot. The effect wears off by the second time.

Police work is unbelievably sloppy. The cops exit crime scenes without gathering any evidence, even leaving suspicious weapons at the final scene.

About John Blanton

I'm a retired engineer living in San Antonio, Texas. I have served in the Navy, raced motorcycles, taken scads of photos and am usually a nice guy. I have political and religious opinions, and these opinions tend to be driven by an excess of observed stupidity. Gross stupidity is the supposed target of many of my posts.
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2 Responses to Another Bad Movie

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