Sep 24, 2019

On DVD: Preston Foster as a Suave Gentleman Thief in Double Danger (1938)

I’ve been a big fan of actor and singer Preston Foster ever since I saw his brooding performance opposite Belita in the ice skating noir The Hunted (1948). He’s got an unusually low-key presence: charming, lightly flirtatious, always in control, but never raising his voice and rarely throwing a fist. Foster is in typically fine form in Double Danger (1938) a comedy mystery recently released on DVD from Warner Archive.

Foster stars as Bob Crane, a crime novelist who claims to find inspiration for his suave thief character “The Gentleman” from the case files of local police chief commissioner David Theron. The truth is that Crane is The Gentleman, and Theron knows it, much to the amusement of Crane, who always manages to keep proof of his crimes hidden.

Crane’s adversary is the debutante Carolyn Martin (Whitney Bourne) who uses her social connections to steal jewels which he then steals from her with a flirtatious air. They’re made for each other, but they’d never team up, because each of them clearly needs to be in control.

Martin and Crane are invited to a relaxing weekend at Theron’s country estate, where they both suspect he hopes to catch them in their crimes. As they watch him set his trap, they are amused, but not concerned. Theron’s daughter (June Johnson) and her flustered boyfriend (Arthur Lake, Dagwood from the Blondie series) provide more drama than anyone else.

I love light programmers like these that slide just slightly past an hour. If they’re well made, they’re such a pleasant watch. This is one of the more solid productions of its kind, with an able cast and just the right mix of humor, romance, action, and intrigue. It’s meant simply to make you happy and it succeeds.

Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.

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