Falcon in Mexico, The (1944): Berke’s Mystery, Starring Tom Conway as Suave Amateur Sleuth

William Berke directed The Falcon in Mexico, a mystery starring Tom Conway in his recurring role as a suave amateur sleuth, supported by Mona Maris and Martha Vickers.

Conway, who played the Falcon seven more times before RKO retired the franchise in 1946, was well cast, bringing a lighter touch to this modestly enjoyable whodunit series.

The Falcon in Mexico
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The Falcon in Mexico was the ninth of 16 films in the Falcon detective series.

The film features many second unit sequences filmed in Mexico and Brazil, including scenes from Orson Welles’s aborted film “It’s All True.”

Tom Lawrence (Tom Conway), aka the Falcon, helps Dolores Ybarra (Cecilia Callejo) enter an art gallery late at night to supposedly recover a painting that belongs to her. The Falcon discovers that the woman is the model for the artist’s painting, however, the artist, Humphrey Wade (Bryant Washburn) has been dead for 15 years. The body of the owner of the gallery lies murdered on the floor. When the security guards arrive, alerted by a burglar alarm, they try to arrest Tom but he escapes with the painting and goes to the home of Winthrop “Lucky Diamond” Hughes (Emory Parnell), a collector of Wade’s work.

Wanted by the American police for murder, the Falcon finds Barbara (Martha Vickers), the late artist’s daughter and they travel to Mexico City. At the airport, Barbara is met by a car from the La Casa Del Laga Inn and slips away. After she drives away, Tom hires taxi driver Manuel Romero (Nestor Paiva) and his son, Pancho (Fernando Alvarado) to follow her.

The La Casa Del Laga Inn, located in a country village was where her father lived and worked. Barbara introduces Tom to her stepmother Raquel (Mona Maris), a dancer, and Raquel’s partner and new husband Anton (Joseph Vitale) who warns Tom to leave Barbara alone and get out of Mexico.

At the inn, desk clerk Paula Dudley (Mary Currier), shows the Wade studio, where Tom finds a drawing done in Wade’s style, with its paint still wet. Dolores, searching for her portrait in Tom’s room, is surprised by his early return but when he pursues her into the hallway, she make her getaway. When he returns to his room, an unknown assailant knocks him unconscious and steals the painting.

Don Carlos Ybarra (Pedro de Cordoba), searches for his daughter but when her body turns up drowned in the lake, Tom thinks she has been murdered. Hughes arrives at the hotel without his famous diamond ring, a piece of jewellery he always wears. At dinner, Barbara collapses, the victim of poisoning, leaving Tom with a puzzling mystery that may be linked to the disappearance of Humphrey Wade. If Wade is still alive, who stands to gain from that?

At the lake, Tom finds Paula, dead in a boat. Manuel appears and reveals that he is an undercover Mexican police officer, who also needs to find the killer on the loose. Back at the inn, they discover Barbara is missing and on her way to an island, where her father’s grave is located. When Tom removes the headstone, however, a masked man approaches Barbara and reveals himself to be her father. He explains that his disappearance came about when his alleged suicide made his paintings valuable.

As Wade warns Barbara that their lives are in danger, he is shot dead. Tom deduces that the killer must be Hughes, and he sets a trap for him. Wearing Wade’s disguise, Tom walks onto the plaza and before Hughes can shoot from a balcony, Manuel fires. With the killer brought to justice, Tom bids farewell to his Mexican friends and boards an aircraft bound for home.

Cast
Tom Conway as Tom Lawrence
Mona Maris as Raquel
Martha Vickers as Barbara Wade
Bryant Washburn as Humphrey Wade, artist
Nestor Paiva as Manuel Romero
Fernando Alvarado as Pancho Romero
Joseph Vitale as Anton
Mary Currier as Paula Dudley
Cecilia Callejo as Dolores Ybarra
Emory Parnell as James Winthrop “Lucky Diamond” Hughes
Pedro de Cordoba as Don Carlos Ybarra
George Lewis as Mexican detective
Julian Rivero as Mexican doctor
Juanita Alvarez as Singer
Ruth Alvarez as Singer
Alan Ward as Ajax policeman
Sherry Hall as Ajax policeman
Wheaton Chambers as Jarvis
Chester Carlisle as Grenville
Bert Moorhouse as Detective Marks
Frank Mayo as Inspector O’Shea
Frank O’Connor as Police officer
Greta Christensen as Isabel
Nina Campana as Duenna

Credits:

Produced by Maurice Geraghty
Screenplay by Gerald Geraghty and George Worthing Yates, based on characters created by Michael Arlen
Music by C. Bakaleinikoff, Leigh Harline, Aaron Gonzales

Cinematography Frank Redman
Edited by Joseph Noriega

Produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures Inc.

Release date: August 4, 1944

Running time: 70 minutes.

Note:

TCM showed the movie on July 9, 2020.