Stroheim The Star For Republic
Scotland Yard Investigator (1945) Teams EvS with C. Aubrey Smith
One thing you don't put on Erich von Stroheim is a wig. His bullet head and attendant scars are too beloved, and fans should never be denied them. I didn't come to Scotland Yard Investigator, via Amazon Prime, with much hope, knowing Republic would somehow botch even this teaming of EvS with C. Aubrey Smith, the two co-billed as leads and happily dominant through 68 minutes' run time. The set-up would seem a natural, Stroheim a dissolute baron caring not about money, which he has, but very much wanting art treasures, which he steals. Object of a latest exercise is, of course, the Mona Lisa, which even ten-year-olds in 1945 knew was a most valued of paintings (would that awareness extend to today's ten-year-olds?).
Erich leaves off the signature herringbone suit habitually worn in cheapies where he was obliged to supply own wardrobe, but does carry a bamboo cane long his companion for publicity portraits. This time the latter doubles as murder weapon. Neither star is titular Scotland Yard Investigator, that part essayed by a colorless Republic juvenile, Richard Fraser, who'd go from this to White Pongo and Tiger Woman. Directing was George Blair, who'd done B's and would continue doing them. Flat lighting and pedestrian set-ups are order of the day, and yet ... there is still Stroheim and Smith, two who could perform from bottom of a barrel and make it effective. Noteworthy is fact that one or both are in virtually every foot of Scotland Yard Investigator, a salvation. We'd like these monuments engaging more combat of wits (Smith 81 at the time), but this being Republic-writ, and hurry-up shot, means we take what we can get and are grateful for it.