A Date with the Falcon posterOne of my favorite movie detectives is Gay Lawrence, aka the Falcon, a gentleman-sleuth and adventurer who was featured in a series of RKO films during the 1940s. The character was first played by George Sanders, who brought his usual urbanity to the role.

The Falcon typically intervened on behalf of some attractive young damsel in distress, and an amusing aspect of the series is that at the end of each episode, just after the Falcon solves the crime, the female lead of the next installment of the series comes on the scene and asks him for his help.

The films have that fizzy, cheerful attitude we often find in classical Hollywood mystery films, but they range widely in locations and story elements, with the high-society sleuth traveling around the country to help attractive females get out of trouble, usually with the police providing much more of a hindrance than a help

Tom Conway (l), George Sanders, and Jane Randolph in The Falcon's BrotherThe settings range from high society to the criminal underworld, but the Falcon typically remains unruffled and outsmarts the villains while staying a couple of steps ahead of the police. It’s all great fun.

Interestingly, after a couple of years in the role, Sanders decided to leave, as he was becoming popular in "A" budget pictures. The studio cleverly replaced him with his brother, Tom Conway, who did an excellent job in the role and in fact appeared in several more Falcon films than Sanders did.

They really don’t make them like this any more, as the saying goes, and I greatly wish they would. 

Fotunately, we can still see the originals. Turner Classic Movies is showing several Falcon films Monday beginning at 6 a.m. EST. They’re well worth watching. Here’s the schedule for tomorrow’s TCM Falcon festival:

6:00 AM Gay Falcon, The (1942)
  A society sleuth tries to break up an insurance scam. Cast: George Sanders, Wendy Barrie, Gladys Cooper. Dir: Irving Reis. BW-67 mins, TV-G, CC
7:15 AM Date With The Falcon, A (1941)
  The gentleman detective postpones his wedding to find a cache of stolen diamonds. Cast: George Sanders, Wendy Barrie, James Gleason. Dir: Irving Reis. BW-63 mins, TV-G
8:30 AM Falcon Takes Over, The (1942)
  A society sleuth and a lady reporter try to track down a murderous thug’s lost girlfriend. Cast: George Sanders, Lynn Bari, Ward Bond. Dir: Irving Reis. BW-63 mins, TV-G
9:45 AM Falcon’s Brother, The (1942)
  A gentlemanly detective calls on his brother to help him stop the Nazis from assassinating a key diplomat. Cast: George Sanders, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph. Dir: Stanley Logan. BW-63 mins, TV-G
11:00 AM Falcon Strikes Back, The (1943)
  A society sleuth is framed for murder by criminals running a war-bond racket. Cast: Tom Conway, Harriet Hilliard, Edgar Kennedy. Dir: Edward Dmytryk. BW-66 mins, TV-G
12:15 PM Falcon In Danger, The (1943)
  A society sleuth tracks a lost plane carrying $100,000. Cast: Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Elaine Shepard. Dir: William Clemens. BW-70 mins, TV-G
1:30 PM Falcon And The Co-Eds, The (1944)
  A society sleuth investigates murder at a girls’ school. Cast: Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell. Dir: William Clemens. BW-68 mins, TV-G
2:45 PM Falcon Out West, The (1944)
  A society sleuth turns cowboy to investigate a Texas murder. Cast: Tom Conway, Carole Gallagher, Barbara Hale. Dir: William Clemens. BW-64 mins,
4:00 PM Falcon In Mexico, The (1944)
  A society sleuth travels South of the border to investigate an art dealer’s murder. Cast: Tom Conway, Mona Maris, Martha MacVicar. Dir: William Berke. BW-70 mins, TV-G
5:15 PM Falcon In Hollywood, The (1944)
  A society sleuth tours the movie capital, where he uncovers an actor’s murder. Cast: Tom Conway, Barbara Hale, Sheldon Leonard. Dir: Gordon Douglas. BW-67 mins, TV-G, CC
6:30 PM Falcon In San Francisco, The (1945)
  A society sleuth enlists a little girl’s help in nabbing a mob of silk smugglers. Cast: Tom Conway, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett. Dir: Joseph H. Lewis. BW-66 mins, TV-G