Abraham Lincoln

Rosen’s masterpiece now exists as a précis with dates and descriptive titles amid snippets from the film, but extant stills show what it must have been.


The Phantom Broadcast

The central gag of Singin’ in the Rain set even closer to Cyrano de Bergerac in a radio studio and couched as a murder mystery, with a curious elegiacal note later seen on One Step Beyond.

The studio is a cathedral of entertainment in which The Man in the Glass Booth carries out his masquerade before a hushed audience. A dry, satirical view of the crooner craze.


The Sphinx

The peculiarly brazen murder of a stockbroker introduces a Depression dichotomy, opera balls and bankrupts. This is announced immediately after the incipit, and very quietly developed to a musical finish.

One spectacular shot dollies out from Jerry’s entrance at Breen’s house, pans right on them into the drawing room, then dollies out again over a hearth-fire in the foreground. A horizontal wipe by a vertical bar is used as a justice motif.

The very funny script is executed along the lines of The Front Page with steam and fortitude, Atwill contributes some notable reaction shots. The theme is that of Keeper of the Flame (which probably remembers that track-and-pan).


The President’s Mystery

It goes directly into Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Quine’s It Happened to Jane, from the merest satirical suggestion by FDR to the editor of Liberty.

Lester Cole and Nathanael West take over from the magazine writers, Henry Wilcoxon has the leading role versus Sidney Blackmer.

The people run their own lives, they can be marshaled against their own interest by stooges “paid to start the riot”, and that’s how National Canneries picks up Springvale Canneries for a song.

This violence is picked up by Sam Wood in Saratoga Trunk, a tale so rugged only GIs were allowed to see it.

Frank S. Nugent made a good bid toward grasping it in his New York Times review.


Spooks Run Wild

A work of genius on the war, dominated by a vampiric “monster killer” and his Italian dwarf, with a trailer full of coffins.

It’s something else, really, a simple matter of rescuing the girl, who turns out to be Scruno.

Carl Foreman and Charles R. Marion and Jack Henley wind this out to a fare-thee-well.

The East Side Kids in handcuffs are sent to a camp in New England where the action is laid, Bela Lugosi and Angelo Rossitto are the villains.

A.W. of the New York Times threw the book at it, “less horror than horrible.”


Charlie Chan in the Secret Service

Washington office, reporting to the chief. Death of a subject under protection, ingeniously killed by a German agent who later is killed, two mysteries.

The Rebecca motif of Lachman’s Castle in the Desert is picked up as a housekeeper with keys “for every lock in the house.”

A case of silencing the witness (cf. Greene’s The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald). The statuette of Liberty recurs in Polanski’s Frantic.

The MacGuffin is an “invention, which the Navy believes would utterly destroy the U-boat menace...”

Leonard Maltin, “an obvious drop in production quality”.

Hal Erickson (Rovi), “singularly uninspiring”.