For Reel

Secrets of the French Police (1932)
July 7, 2014, 12:55 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
2.5 Stars
Secrets of the French PoliceWhile the title Secrets of the French Police might evoke a sly, fact-driven police procedural, in actuality this 1932 RKO production is more of a melodrama until it devolves into an all-out horror grotesquerie. Gregory Ratoff plays a Russian general who kidnaps and hypnotizes a Parisian flower girl (Gwii Andre) into believing that she is an exiled princess due millions of dollars held in London bank accounts. In hot pursuit is the team of inspector St. Cyr (Frank Morgan), a brilliant veteran with innovative methods of tracking down criminals, and the recruited gentleman burglar Leon Renault (John Warburton). There are some interesting looks at early 20th century investigative work here and there (one highlight sees an early form of the facial composite in which a towering face is assembled on a wall), but there isn’t quite enough to appease fans of genre. The most memorable sequence occurs when the maniacal Russian general reveals the extent of his perversity and begins the process of making a statue out of a helpless victim. Though abstracted by shadows and extreme close-ups, the audience is still made fully aware of every gory detail.

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