For Reel

Find the Blackmailer (1943)
August 22, 2015, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: D. Ross Lederman
3 Stars
Find the BlackmailerJerome Cowan had a small supporting role in The Maltese Falcon as Humphrey Bogart’s partner, and in 1943 he was rewarded for his years of work at Warner Brothers with a leading role in Find the Blackmailer, another picture about the search for a big black bird. Indeed, the film plays as a direct spoof of the noir classic, with Cowan’s fast-talking private investigator navigating a world of criminals in a convoluted plot. Cowan is a likable and unique presence as a leading man–his persona is as if William Powell were half-rat, with his elegance downplayed and sleaziness enhanced. As his client, Gene Lockhart gives a dependably great, understated performance. Running at just under an hour in length, Robert E. Kent’s screenplay struggles to fit in enough plot to stuff the measly running time, with a number of meaningless diversions and scenes that simply play for too long. Regardless, Cowan’s off-color appeal is worth a gander, as is Lockhart, who treats the decidedly B-material with an obliging restraint.

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