Arsene Lupin Returns (1938)

Genres - Crime, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Master Criminal Films  |   Release Date - Feb 25, 1938 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Arsene Lupin Returns may cause modern American viewers to ask "Who is Arsene Lupin?" as the title character, the subject of numerous films and even, in other countries, TV series, is not quite so well known nowadays in the States. Returns is fortunate to have Melvyn Douglas playing Lupin; while he certainly is not French, and while he is perhaps not quite as ruthless as the original character warrants, he is a delight in the role as written for this picture. Douglas unfortunately doesn't enter until well into the proceedings, which causes the first 15 or 20 minutes to drag a bit, despite the best efforts of the rest of the cast. Warren William is quite effective as the private detective, and Monty Woolley is always a very welcome presence. Virginia Bruce looks marvelous and does fairly well; one wishes she were a bit more inventive, but she does spark some necessary chemistry with Douglas. The screenplay is problematic, particularly in the clues it does and does not provide, but it's George Fitzmaurice's direction that causes headaches. The pacing is off, and he doesn't show a real talent for creating the kind of tension that this sort of film requires. Still, Douglas and company help to smooth over the rough patches.