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Fog Over Frisco

(1934 b 69')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Stolen securities lead to a murder and a kidnapping of two prominent sisters in this mystery adapted from the novel by George Dyer.

William Dieterle directed this intricate plot with such fast pacing that even the women run. Arlene Bradford (Bette Davis) is popular with the nightclub crowd even though she is engaged to Spencer Carlton (Lyle Talbot). A package of stolen securities are put in her car before she leaves with her sister Valkyr Bradford (Margaret Lindsay). Everett Bradford (Arthur Byron) says Arlene is like her mother and pathological. The police are looking for the stolen securities. Arlene gives them to Spencer. He says he doesn't want anymore and says he has helped her make $800,000. Yet he writes her a check for $50,000. Val complains to reporter Tony Sterling (Donald Woods) about the publicity. Arlene gives Val an envelope to keep safe. A man calls Arlene, and they arrange to meet; the butler Thorne (Robert Barrat) listens to the call. Arlene has Thorne take her engagement ring back to Spencer. Bradford and Co. find the stolen securities and decide to avoid scandal by paying for them. Spencer confesses and says Arlene broke their engagement. Bradford tells Spencer he will protect him. Arlene tells Jake (Irving Pichel) it was her last job.

Arlene welcomes Joshua Maynard (Douglass Dumbrille); but he says he is there for business and asks for the letters, as he no longer loves her. Arlene slaps him and runs out. Someone hides in Arlene's room. Val and Thorne look for Arlene. Val finds a good-bye note from her, saying she can keep the envelope of money. Val goes to the police, and O'Malley (Alan Hale) assures her there will be no publicity; but Spike (William Demarest) calls the newspaper. Tony is told to write the story, and the comic relief Izzy (Hugh Herbert) takes a photo of Val in the garage. She fails to get the camera and leaves. Izzy finds a cloth and discovers the body of Arlene in the trunk of her car. Their editor says tell no one, and Tony does not even tell his girlfriend Val, though he tells Bradford Arlene is in "grave danger." Val gets a telegram from Arlene to meet her and takes her car. When Bradford shows the telegram to Tony, he says it is phony because Arlene is dead. Val drives to the bridge, and Bradford's car gets a wrecked tire. A gang demands the envelope from Val, and mentioning Jake's name, he has to take her with them. Tony follows but is grabbed and thrown in the bay, as the gang takes off in a speedboat. The police arrive and follow.

News of the Bradford murder and kidnapping hits the papers, and Bradford offers a reward. Spencer is found shot, a suicide. Arlene's will left everything to her husband. O'Malley tells Bradford that Thorne is secret service. Maynard tells the police about the letters, and O'Malley reads them. Tony and Izzy learn from Maynard's yacht that he is Arlene's husband. As Val comes in, Maynard pulls a gun and is shot by Thorne. Val tells the police what she learned from Jake, that he was blackmailing Maynard. Finally Tony asks Val to marry, and they kiss for a photo.

Quick cutting packs all this into less than 69 minutes. It certainly moves quickly if one can manage to follow it, though there isn't much time for reflecting on the social and psychological implications of the half sisters, their father, and their relationships.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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