The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939)

Genres - Adventure, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama  |   Release Date - Jan 27, 1939 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 67 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Some people think that Sean Connery was the first hero who could unravel international spy rings, armed with little more than some daring, a witty quip or two, and the ability to look good in a dinner jacket. Warren William got there first, however -- and almost 25 years before Connery -- in The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt, the first and best of the "Lone Wolf" film series from Columbia Pictures. The action is non-stop along with the humor and the verbal sparring, between William's glib-tongued Michael Lanyard and virtually everyone else in the plot, from his young daughter (Virginia Weidler) to ditsy senator's daughter Ida Lupino, the two slow-on-the-uptake D.C. police detectives (Don Beddoe, Tom Dugan) who'd like to arrest him, and the enemy agents, whose ranks include Rita Hayworth, Ralph Morgan, Ben Welden, and Marc Lawrence. And for good measure, there's some droll humor provided by Leonard Carey as Lanyard's valet, and the presence of comic stalwarts Vernon Dent, Jack Norton (as a drunk, of course), and Dick Elliott (who is so young here, that he's the junior of the two police officers in chase scene that manages to be both suspenseful and funny). They didn't give awards for B-movie work, but if they had director Peter Godfrey -- a British vaudeville comic, magician, director, and producer making both his film directorial and his Hollywood bow here -- would have been in the running for one, just for the careful balancing act that he pulls off, and for making a 67 minute picture that feels like a full night's entertainment. A laugh fest as well as a fine thriller, The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt is a first-rate example of what a B-movie could be, and a fine showcase for the lighter side of Warren William's talents -- and the perfect companion to his more serious performances in pictures like The Match King, Three On A Match, and Strange Illusion.