Ray McCarey | 60 mins | download | 4:3 | USA / English | PG*
Once again smitten by a pretty lady, the Falcon finds himself co-opted into guarding a wealthy woman’s jewellery. But when said jewels are promptly stolen, and murders ensue, our charming hero is implicated. Who would do such a dastardly thing? And what’s going on with the DJ in the roof of the hotel?
The jewels are almost an aside as the twelfth Falcon film gets stuck into a main plot about secret lovers and betrayal. It’s darker than usual fare for the series, bordering on the noir-ish. There’s still the usual Falcon charm and comedic antics of Goldie to lighten the mood, but they feel bolted on to the core of a slightly grimmer tale — everyone’s a crook; half of them die. Some elements are woefully underdeveloped, in that churn-’em-out B-movie way: we never see the conductor’s reaction to his lover being murdered by her secret husband, for instance; or the explanation for the jewel theft, stuck on the end in a throwaway moment — that was what drew the Falcon in, therefore ostensibly the main case! And what instead turns out to be the primary plot would have played out the same way even if the Falcon hadn’t become involved. Oh dear.
From all this, the film is somewhat rescued by Elisha Cook Jr.’s performance. He’s great as ever, a remarkably dependable character actor. (Though it does come with the slightly odd sight of Cook Jr. and Esther Howard being all best-chums-y after recently seeing him try to kill her in Lady of Deceit. I guess that kind of encounter probably happened a lot in those studio contract days.)
Among the rest of the cast, Vince Barnett becomes the fourth actor to play the Falcon’s sidekick, Goldie; and Jean Brooks and Rita Corday each appear in their fifth Falcon films! Brooks was previously in Strikes Back, in Danger, the Co-eds and in Hollywood, while Corday was in Strikes Back, the Co-eds, in Hollywood and in San Francisco (making this three in a row). Can you imagine anyone doing that today? (And Brooks is in literally one shot, I think. Considering she was a leading lady in at least two previous Falcons, that’s a tad weird to boot.)
I’m not sure Alibi is that good as a Falcon film, but the storyline featuring Cook Jr.’s performance make it watchable in spite of the other problems.