Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Footsteps in the Dark (1941)

Errol Flynn takes a rare turn in a comedy film in Footsteps in the Dark as lawyer by day amateur detective running around with the cops by night. In his spare time Francis is a mystery writer writing under the penname F.X. Pettyjohn. His new book entitled Footsteps in the Dark has sparked some controversy. His mother-in-law and her book club want to sue the author for slander since he has based some of his story on them. His wife and mother-in-law do not know he is the author of the book so throughout the film he has to try to keep his identities in order.
            Francis goes out with the police at night working to get ideas for his stories. He comes home late climbing up a lader and through his bedroom window. He has a loving wife Rita who does not suspect anything at first.
            At his office one day a man named Leopold Fissue comes in pretty much demanding that he become Francis’s client. The man deals with diamonds and he wants Francis to help him invest them. Francis says that he is not the kind of client he normally takes on but the man is shady and very persuasive. Fissue tells Francis to come by his place that night and they can talk the deal over. Francis goes to Fissue’s place but the man does not show up. His butler tells Francis that Fissue went out on his boat but he cannot imagine what could be keeping him.
            Francis finds it odd that Fissue never showed up so he goes to hang out with his police buddies. The station gets a call that a man was found dead on his boat, Francis tags along. The man on the boat is Fissue. The police do not know that Francis is Francis Warren the lawyer they know him only by his pen name so they do not know that Fissue had seen and set up a meeting with the lawyer during the day. Francis is one step ahead of the police who he sees and we see as incompetent and bumbling and are more than happy to stop the case once the coroner reports that Fissue died from cardiac arrest due to alcoholism. Francis knows better and starts his own investigation while the real detectives chase their tails.
            The further Francis investigates on his own the more he gets in trouble both with the law and with his wife and mother-in-law.
             The very ending of the film is really cute. You know that Francis will never stop doing what does chasing after the police seeking a thrill so his wife figures if he will not stop she will go with him.
            As I was watching this film I could not help but thinking of the show Castle with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. If you do not watch Castle the show is about an author who tags along with a detective and her team to get information for his books and also helps to solve murders. I would not be surprised if the creator of the show got the idea from Footsteps in the Dark. I enjoyed this film very much. Errol Flynn when he was given the chance to do something more than play cowboys and action heroes was so fabulous. He was so charming and handsome and slick. I like seeing him in his modern roles rather than period pieces. Ralph Bellamy also stars in the film, he is not in it a lot but he has a very important role and one that is so out of character from what he usually played.
            Footsteps in the Dark is very different for a classic film which is the reason why it is fun to watch today. The story and plot is light, entertaining and fun. Errol Flynn does not fail to capture and keep your attention with his handsomeness and his charm as he outsmarts the police. Footsteps in the Dark is a hidden classic comedic gem that must be seen by all those who call themselves film buff.