Mohr and Blore

Thinner than the Thin Man! Saintlier than the Saint! Crimier than the Crime Doctor and more masonic than Perry Mason! Michael Lanyard, the Lone Wolf, is back, accompanied as ever by his faithful manservant, Jamison… wait, how can he be a lone wolf if he’s accompanied?

We sold Marvelous Mary on the idea of a Lone Wolf watch party so she can feed her Eric Blore addiction (for it is he who essays the role of Jamison, apart from one outing where Alan Mowbray stepped in, with Ron Randall in his only appearance as Lanyard — I’m saving that one for a day when it is not only rainy, but SUBMERGED).

Our double-feature was to consist of ONE DANGEROUS NIGHT, Warren the starving lion’s penultimate Lanyard performance, and then THE LONE WOLF IN MEXICO, in which the now ailing WW is subbed out by pod person Gerald Mohr, a Columbia upstart best known for fading into the background of GILDA. Both films acquired in suitably ratty form, poor prints duped from VHS off-air recordings, the latter one graced with massive, decomposing Spanish subtitles crawling over half the image, through which the actors peered like convicted felons, as perhaps they were. A good evening in.

These subtitles are illegible, it’s a good thing I don’t understand Spanish.

Mary suggested we invite our mutual chum Stuart to partake also. Stuart produced my first short film, so would seem to have much to answer for, but he answered for it fully at the time, I can assure you. I don’t know what he’s done since to make him deserving of this cinematic treat, but probably plenty. I sold the show to him as “pre-televisual time consumption units.” There was eventually a Lone Wolf TV show, after Ron Randall murdered the movie series, and it starred Louis Hayward who seems like excellent low-budget casting, which lets face it is all the series ever got. I might check it out, Alfred E. Green directed some and there are exciting guest stars like Denver Pile and Morris Ankrum. Oh goodie!

I am curious about THE FALSE FACES, the silent Henry B. Walthall vehicle which is available purely because Lon Chaney’s in it. Curious about the numerous other silents also, but none is within my grasp, and the part-talkie THE LONE WOLF’S DAUGHTER is considered lost. Maybe I’ll never find out if Bert Lytell was a worthy precursor to the Starving Lion. With a name like Bert, it’s hard to picture him doing the suavity.

Curious also about the early talkies with Melvyn Douglas (pretty classy casting) and Francis Lederer (pretty surprising casting, though Lederer is ALWAYS surprising, not to say alarming, in any role). I can get those.

ONE DANGEROUS NIGHT is standard Lone Wolf stuff, enlivened by WW failing to take himself or anything else seriously, and by Blore’s “bits”: he’s called upon to impersonate an entire 4th of July party, to loudly feign illness, and to fire a prop Tommy gun, all of which he does so with his usual enthusiasm, which rightly should belong to a man twice his size, but who’d pay for the damage?

Blore being a party.

Blore feigning illness.

Michael Gordon directs, having worked his way up from Boston Blackie by way of the Crime Doctor, with Cyrano still in his future.

Sample dialogue from a henchperson: “Kid’s got a bad case of ants, always in a stew.”

Eric Blore gets to say: “We’re being followed, sir. Couple of storybook characters.”

Anne Savage gets to say: “Come on, honeybunch, let’s go places.”

MEXICO, despite Mohr being somewhat overshadowed by his immediately predecessor, is the same kind of fun. Co-writer of DETOUR, Martin Goldsmith, is one of the credited scribes, and the dialogue has zest. It’s directed by D. Ross Lederman, whose first initial and middle name seem to form their own critical commentary.

Weirdly, though Jamison/Blore is characterised as a reformed thief in all the films, these two are the only ones I’ve seen where he’s portrayed as a sort of kleptomaniac, snatching purses in both flicks to jump-start a spare bit of narrative.

Eric Blore gets to say: “What have we done now??” Also he gets to wear a sombrero and sing the “Ay, ay, ay!” song. You know the one I mean.

Last line of the film is a Mexican policeman saying “…I thee-eenk.” More innocent times. Subtitling this for the Spanish market may have been an act of post-war optimism.

ONE DANGEROUS NIGHT stars Paul Kroll; Cedric Cosmo, aka Captain Braceridge Hemingway; Eve Corby; Stephanie ‘Steffie’ Hajos; Eloise Matthews; Vera; Mr. Bel-Goodie; Sgt. Murphy; Noah Joad; Buddy De Sylva; Capt. Delgado; Joe Brody; Count Alexis Rakonin; The College Cad; Gort; Spat; Leatherstocking; Trustee, Boston Waif Society (uncredited); and Steve McCroskey.

THE LONE WOLF IN MEXICO stars Capt. Delgado again; Cedric Cosmo, aka Captain Braceridge Hemingway again; Ann, Cowgirl in Movie (uncredited); Mona Plash; Minor Supporting Role (uncredited); Roy Church; Megalos (uncredited); Reverend Hawthorne (uncredited); Bret Harte (uncredited); Mendoza (uncredited); Reuben Klopek; Cannabis Dealer (as Leon Lenoir); Samaris (uncredited); Spectator at Medusa Presentation (uncredited); and Leatherstocking again.

8 Responses to “Mohr and Blore”

  1. jwarthen Says:

    Gerald Mohr was the best of several radio Phillip Marlowes– 1948-51, 119 episodes. His jaunty, companionable PI efficiently wraps things up in each 24 minute adventure.

  2. Highly enjoyable! And a bit of sassy gangster moll action… in the first which was highly enjoyable. Fear I forgot to get a fur cape for lockdown .. must be remedied!

  3. Tony Williams Says:

    Gerald Mohr deserves more (excuse the pun!) than being referred to as a “Californian upstart”.. He was a regular on 50s/60s TV series, headed FOREIGN INTRIGUE (1955), 7 appearances in MAVERICK (1961), suspected “gaslighter” to Cathy o’Donnell in MY WORLD DIES SCREAMING (1958) and much, much more!

  4. Much, much Mohr.

    He was OK, but he’s no Warren William.

    Another less-celebrated Marlowe swam into view this week: George Montgomery, who gets short shrift for his work in The Brasher Doubloon, which has some nice direction from my man Brahm. But I saw him in Roxie Hart, where he’s giving a real character performance, playing his character at two ages, and he seems ambitious to be a proper thespian.

  5. I haven’t seen enough of Mohr’s film work in the 1940s to have a useful opinion about that phase of his career: by the time he moved into television in the mid-50s, however, he had matured into an excellent character actor with a flair for playing smooth criminals. All the same, I can see why he’d come as a disappointment after Warren William.

  6. Tony Williams Says:

    Yes, Mohr was a frequent regular on guest appearances on WB TV series in the 50s and 60s and was really good in MY WORLD DIES SCREAMING (released under a different title in the UK) in the leading role. John Qualen was also superb in this cast of 5 inb a film I brought to Dilys POwell’s attention and received a nice note of thanks from her.

  7. Terror in the Haunted House! With Cathy O’Donnell and… my memory tells me there are a bunch of real circus sideshow people, but there are none listed on IMDb.

  8. Ah hah. Seem to have muddled it with House of the Damned, which features Richard Kiel and others.

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