Friday, February 19, 2021

The Solitaire Man ( 1933 )

Herbert Marshall made his MGM debut in 1933 with a quickie called The Solitaire Man where he played the titular character, a jewel smuggler who decides to go straight. 

Oliver Lane aka "The Solitaire Man" wants to settle down and live the life of an honest nobleman. He just purchased a farm in England and proposed marriage to his long-time partner-in-crime Helen ( Elizabeth Allan ). Together with their thieving friends Mrs. Vail ( May Robson ) and Mr. Bascom ( Ralph Forbes ) they board a plane for London, but the flight is anything but smooth when they discover that a Scotland Yard investigator ( Lionel Atwill ) is on board ready to put the handcuffs on them all. 

The Solitaire Man, based on Samuel and Bella Spewack's play, is an entertaining mystery that packs in quite a bit of story in its 67-minute runtime. The first half is especially good; once the story moves into the airplane sequence it becomes more of a psychological drama. It would have been nice had it played out like Raffles and moved from its Monte Carlo setting to a country estate for more mystery and thievery. 

Herbert Marshall's star quality was apparant even in this minor production. He never had the striking appearance of a leading man but in every film he played he clearly took command. Another actor commanding attention was Mary Boland who played an outspoken American plane passenger. She, too, was making her debut at MGM and would go on to have a long career with the studio, notably garnering attention in The Women ( 1939 ). Also in the cast is Lucille Gleason ( James Gleason's wife ) and Robert McWade. 

The Solitaire Man is not yet available on DVD.  

8 comments:

  1. This sounds very interesting. Hope we get to see it some time.

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  2. I have yet to watch this, but have never seen Herbert Marshall in a movie in which I didn't like his performance. An added bonus is Lionel Atwill!

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