Passport to Suez
Passport to Suez (1943; also known as A Night of Adventure and The Clock Strikes Twelve) is the 20th film featuring the Lone Wolf character. It was the eleventh of fifteen in the Columbia Pictures series, and the last to star Warren William as the lead character, a jewel thief turned private detective. The Lone Wolf battles Nazi spies in Egypt in World War II.
|Passport to Suez|
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Andre DeToth|
|Produced by||Wallace MacDonald|
|Music by||M. W. Stoloff|
|Cinematography||L. William O'Connell|
|Edited by||Mel Thorsen|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Michael Lanyard (Warren William), the Lone Wolf, agrees to go to Alexandria to help the Allied cause during World War II. There, he and his valet, Llewellyn Jamison (Eric Blore), are met by his old friend, nightclub owner Johnny Booth (Sheldon Leonard).
Fritz (Lloyd Bridges) comes to drive him, supposedly to see Sir Robert Wembley (Frederick Worlock), head of the British secret service in the region. However, he is actually taken to meet Karl (Gavin Muir), the leader of a Nazi spy ring. Karl threatens to kill Jamison (whom he has kidnapped) unless Lanyard does some as yet unspecified work for him. When Lanyard reluctantly agrees, the two men are released. After they leave, Karl reveals to Fritz that he expects the Lone Wolf to try to trap him, but that is all part of his plan. When Lanyard meets with Wembley, the spymaster makes clear that he does not want an amateur's help, but reluctantly agrees to let the Lone Wolf play along in order to gather more information.
Complicating matters further, Lanyard and Jamison encounter the latter's son Donald (Robert Stanford), a British naval officer, and his fiancée, reporter Valerie King (Ann Savage) in Booth's nightclub. Lanyard soon suspects that she is not all she appears to be. In Booth's private office, he also meets freelance spies or informers (more or less on friendly terms with Booth), who call themselves "Rembrandt" (Louis Merrill) and "Cezanne" (Jay Novello). Cézanne shows him that the lace King was knitting contains a secret message. When the two spies leave, Rembrandt shoots Cézanne; he dies in front of the nightclub, at King's feet.
When King returns to her hotel room, Karl is waiting for her. She is one of his agents, currently extracting information from Donald for their real goal: the plans for the minefields and defences of the Suez Canal.
Meanwhile, the Lone Wolf is approached by "Whistler" (Sig Arno), yet another unscrupulous man with information to sell. Whistler sells him lace that King had sent to a laundry; the hidden message indicates that whatever the Nazis plan to do is to be finished by midnight.
Karl visits Lanyard and gives him his assignment: break into a safe at British Intelligence and steal some documents. However, it eventually becomes clear to all that Lanyard's part is merely a distraction. The plans have already been stolen. Wembley orders the arrest of the Lone Wolf for treason, but Lanyard escapes.
He and Jamison head for the laundry. Along the way, they come upon the unconscious Donald. They revive him and take him along. Inside, they find secret rooms and overpower Karl. They also discover the body of Whistler and a clue, shards of a distinctive watch crystal, just like the one King has, microfilming equipment, and ashes of the defence plans. Lanyard deduces that the plans have been transferred to King's watch. When she telephones, Lanyard pretends to be Karl and learns that she is at the hotel. Before they get there, however, Rembrandt kills her and takes the watch to Karl.
Fortunately, Booth has an aircraft armed with machine guns. Lanyard pilots it, finds the speeding car taking Karl and Rembrandt to the submarine, and guns them both down.
Principal photography under the working titles of A Night of Adventure and The Clock Strikes Twelve, took place from April 29 to May 18, 1943. The "Lone Wolf" title character was played by Warren William in his last of nine films in which he portrayed the jewel thief turned private detective, a character created by Louis Joseph Vance (1879–1933) in a series of eight novels published between 1914 and 1934. Eric Blore continued playing Lanyard's butler "Jameson."
Director Andre DeToth who was a staple in B-movies of the 1940s, provided his typical treatment. "His most enduring legacy, especially to later directors and film students, was a series of superb B movies – mostly westerns and crime dramas that he made in the late 1940s and 1950s. They were gritty, psychologically acute and unflinchingly violent."
The Los Angeles Board of Review of the War Review Board disapproved the export of Passport to Suez this because the film portrayed British Intelligence as ineffectual and naive.
Film historian Leonard Maltin considered Passport to Suez as a worthy addition to the "Lone Wolf" series: "Nazi spies lead sleuth William on a wild goose chase as part of a plan to blow up the Suez Canal in this well-made Lone Wolf entry with more comedy relief from Blore than usual."
- In The Lone Wolf in London Jamison was known as Claudius.
- "Original print information: 'Passport to Suez' (1943)", Turner Classic Movies; retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Blottner 2012, pg. 242.
- Lyman, Rick. "Andre DeToth, the director of noted 3-D film, is dead." The New York Times, November 1, 2002; retrieved May 11, 2016.
- "Notes: 'Passport to Suez' (1943)", Turner Classic Movies; retrieved May 11, 2016.
- "Leonard Maltin movie review: 'Passport to Suez' (1943)", Turner Classic Movies; retrieved May 11, 2016.
- Blottner, Gene. Columbia Pictures Movie Series, 1926—1955: The Harry Cohn Years. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-3353-7.