Not to be confused with the identically named African-American actor (1873-1936), or the white radio, television, and film actor (1912-1965), writer-producer-director John Larkin (also sometimes credited as John Francis Larkin) was a prolific presence in motion pictures and television across three decades. Born in 1901, he was writing for the theater by the end of the 1920s, and one of his plays was the basis for the Spencer Tracy/James Dunn/Peggy Shannon vehicle Society Girl, made at Fox in 1932.
Larkin's first substantial screen credits date from the other end of the decade, when he joined the story department at 20th Century Fox, with pictures such as News Is Made at Night and Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (both 1939). Larkin became a mainstay of the Chan series at Fox for the time that the series had left at the studio, including Castle in the Desert (1942), though he also wrote scripts for entries in the Lone Wolf series and wartime thrillers such as Secret Agent of Japan (1942), and the occasional Cisco Kid picture. Mysteries and thrillers were his specialty, including the original story for Fritz Lang's Cloak and Dagger (1946), but that didn't stop Larkin from writing such lighter, fluffier as the Betty Grable vehicle The Dolly Sisters (1945).
He was moved up to the director's chair at Fox in 1942, allowing him to shoot one of his own screenplays, the neat mystery-thriller Quiet Please, Murder, involving spies and counterspies, along with concerned bystanders going head-to-head at the public library. Larkin directed two more features at Fox in the first half of the 1940s but then moved over to MGM, where his last screenplay was for the frothy Jane Powell vehicle Nancy Goes to Rio (1950). With the advent of television in the 1950s, Larkin moved over to the small-screen medium as a writer, on series such as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Presents, and then as a producer (and sometime writer) on Fabian of the Yard, The Adventures of the Big Man, M Squad, starring Lee Marvin, and Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. He passed away in 1965 at the age of 63.