The Michael Shayne, Private Eye films are good B-movie fun, with Lloyd Nolan, never really a front-running leading man, surprisingly appealing in these unpretentious little thrillers. The only thing distinguishing them from countless other detective movies, apart from a sprinkling of wit, are the facts that they’re if anything a little MORE generic than any other ‘tec movies, and the fact that they rejoice in the character’s Irish-American roots. So it seems fitting that Nolan’s detective license is signed by Irish-American character actor Allen Jenkins!
Lovers of Warner Bros precodes will likely know Allen well. Persons of my generation, kids during the 70s, may also know him as the voice of Officer Dibble on TV’s Top Cat. Incidentally, in a fit of madness, the BBC broadcast the show under the title “Boss Cat,” under the mistaken assumptions that (1) nobody in the UK was familiar with the expression “top dog,” upon which the Hanna-Barbera cartoon based its title (2) this mattered in the slightest and (3) nobody would notice that the theme tune of the show had LYRICS, which clearly included the words “Top” and “Cat.”
I’m still angry about that all these years later. I can’t let it go. This may offer some clue as to why I can be a tricky person to collaborate with creatively. As Buster Keaton said, “In this business, there’s a certain amount of guess. Has to be. So you try to convince yourself, maybe the other fellow’s right. But once in a while… ain’t no guess.”