Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movie: Jewel Robbery

Jewel Robbery
based on a story by Ladislaus Fodor

It surely didn't win any awards for its bland title and it's not even close to being a whodunit, but Jewel Robbery is notable for its comic touch and for the fact that it stars William Powell, several years before he took a crack at those six Thin Man movies.

Powell's connection to crime and mystery cinema had already been established by this time. His first movie role, in 1922, was a minor part in the John Barrymore version of Sherlock Holmes. By the time of Jewel Robbery he had already taken on the role of Philo Vance in four films and would do so one more time, in 1933.

Powell's role here is a character known as The Robber. He's a dapper and quite sophisticated jewel thief in the vein of The Lone Wolf and that sort. When he knocks off a jewelry shop, in a very precisely orchestrated operation, the urbane Robber comes upon a young, attractive Baroness who catches his eye - and vice versa.

All of which adds up to a mildly screwy screwball comedy with a healthy dash of romance, grafted onto a framework of a crime story that's mostly there to keep the plot moving in a forward direction. I'd rank it as a mildly diverting curiosity, if you like this sort of thing, and not much more than that.

The New York Times reviewed this one back in the day. They called it "nervous, brittle comedy of a sort that is sufficiently novel in the films to be stimulating. " More here.

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