|Arsène Lupin Returns (1938)
Run time: Approved | 81 min | Crime, Mystery
Director: George Fitzmaurice
Writers: James Kevin McGuinness, Howard Emmett Rogers
Stars: Melvyn Douglas, Virginia Bruce, Warren William
A stylish feature based on the adventures of fiction’s most famous gentleman thief. To get away from it all Lupin seeks early retirement but a series of robberies suggest his “touch” and an insurance detective is convinced he’s guilty
1. Actress Ruth Hart who plays the telephone operator is the cousin of star Virginia Bruce.
2. When Steve quits his job as a G-man and goes to work for an insurance company, for what he says is $20,000 per year, that would be the equivalent salary of almost $340,000 in 2015.
3. The emerald’s insurance value of $250,000 would equate to over $4,230,000 in 2015.
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Melvyn Douglas, (Arsene Lupin) keeps his real name a secret from everyone and gets himself involved with a stolen necklace and also has a romantic relationship with Lorraine DeGrissac, (Virginia Bruce) who both give an outstanding performance throughout the entire film. There is plenty of laughs and comedy in this film and it captures your attention and then turns quickly away from stolen jewelry and centers around all the characters involved in this mystery. George Zucco, (Perfect of Police) instead of playing the role as a crook which he has done all his acting career, is now a police man who tries to catch his criminal and suspects Arsene Lupin of stealing this necklace. Georges Bouchet, (Monty Wolley) plays low key in this film and has some very dark secrets which he does not want to reveal.
The Barrymore brothers scored well as Arsene Lupin and the dogged detective trailing him back in the early days of sound, so MGM decided the old thief could use a second go around.
It turns out he didn't die as per the original film, but is now living in quiet retirement, at least until some enterprising thief decided to do a job and pin it on him. Now it's up to Lupin to clear himself.
The plot of Arsene Lupin Returns is remarkably similar to Alfred Hitchcock's classic To Catch A Thief, right down to the French locale for most of the story. Of course this B film was shot on the MGM back lot.
For a B film, Arsene Lupin Returns boasts a remarkable cast of classic players. Melvyn Douglas, Warren William, John Halliday, Monty Woolley, George Zucco and Tully Marshall all had years of stage training before going into film. In fact when about five of these guys were in the same scene, I have to say I haven't so much perfect diction this side of a Ronald Colman film.
Given however it is a B film with a limited cast too much talk will give away the culprit. Looking over the list I can say any one of these guys by past roles could have been the thief. I'll say this though, leading lady Virginia Bruce didn't do it.
No color cinematography, no good French Riviera locations, but Arsene Lupin Returns has a nice story done by a group of the classiest players ever to be assembled on one movie.
And for a B film besides.
This is one of my favorite movies from the 5-Cent Saturday morning shows at the Metro Theatre back in the 1950s! It’s a Classic film that has everything a person could wish for, very funny and witty dialogue, first-class actors, great sets and settings, and all in all, an A movie of the best kind! Melvyn Douglas and Virginia Bruce have chemistry, Warren William is at his debonair and charming best, and Monty Woolley — prototype of the crusty old gent with a soft heart — plays the secret villian!
A fantastic movie that deserves an audience!
Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, 1939) plays Rene Ferrand in this 1938 film, one of the many follow up films to the "first" talkie Arsene Lupin movie from 1932. Warren William is insurance agent Steve Emerson, who accompanies the Grissac family Lorraine (Virginia Bruce) and the Count (John Halliday). Monty Woolley, with his Santa Claus beard, best known for "The Man Who Came to Dinner" is Georges Bouchet; Familiar face Nat Pendleton (always played the henchman or tough guy) is Joe Doyle, Ferrand's sidekick, and Vladimir Sokoloff is Ivan Pavloff, the mysterious prowler. When a thief tries to steal a valuable necklace, everyone is a suspect. Then things get complicated. Fun scene near the end where the necklace turns up, and it goes from one pocket to another in slight of hand — then more shooting, more accusations, and a clever way to catch the thief. We aren't really given any early clues in "Murder She Wrote" style – in this one, we can only watch as it all takes place, and try to guess which are the red herrings. Good story, but much more buttoned down and proper than the 1932 Lupin story, starring the Barrymore brothers. TCM showing the collection in November 2007.