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A society sleuth travels South of the border to investigate an art dealer''''s murder.
Tom Lawrence, the debonair sleuth known as "The Falcon," comes to the aid of Dolores Ybarra when he finds the girl hiding in a doorway and she implores him to help her retrieve a stolen portrait that she had painted. After breaking into the art gallery, Tom realizes that Dolores was the model and not the artist. Just as Tom discovers the dead body of the art dealer, the security guards arrive, alerted by a burglar alarm. The guards are skeptical of Tom's story because Dolores has vanished and the portrait was painted by Humphrey Wade, an artist who has been dead for fifteen years, and therefore could not have employed the youthful Dolores as his model. When the guards try to arrest him, Tom escapes with the painting and goes to the home of Winthrop "Lucky Diamond" Hughes, a collector of Wade's work. Hughes, who is known as Lucky Diamond because of the enormous ring he wears, identifies the painting as a genuine Wade and suggests that Tom question Wade's daughter Barbara. Tom visits Barbara's apartment, but when no one answers her door, he breaks in and discovers a stack of newspaper clippings regarding the sale of Dolores' portrait. After Barbara returns home, Tom asks her about the painting, and she responds that she believes her father is still alive. When the police, who have been sent by Hughes, arrive at the apartment, Tom decides to journey to Mexico, Wade's burial place, and Barbara insists on accompanying him. After eluding the police, Barbara and Tom fly to Mexico City. At the airport, Barbara slips away from Tom and is met by a car from the La Casa Del Laga Inn. After Barbara drives away, Tom hires taxi driver Manuel Romero and his son Pancho to follow her. They trail her to the inn, which is located in a country village. There, Barbara explains to Tom that she has come to the inn because her father lived and worked there. When Barbara introduces Tom to her stepmother Raquel, a dancer, and Raquel's partner and new husband Anton, Anton warns the detective to leave Barbara alone and get out of Mexico. At a fountain the next morning, Raquel asks Tom to abandon his search for Wade, and Tom accuses her of trying to truncate his investigation for fear that she would be judged a bigamist if Wade were still alive. Back at the inn, Paula Dudley, the desk clerk, shows Barbara and Tom Wade's studio, which she has kept intact. As Barbara leaves the studio, she senses her father's presence behind a locked door, so Tom picks the lock. Inside the room, they find a drawing done in Wade's style, its paint still wet. At that moment, Paula appears at the door and orders them out of her room. Questioned about the painting, she asserts that it is her own work, but Tom suggests that she may be creating Wade forgeries. Returning to his own room, Tom surprises Dolores, who is searching for her portrait. Tom pursues her into the hallway, but when he loses her, he returns to his room and is about to retrieve the painting when a man knocks him unconscious and steals it. After regaining consciousness, Tom questions Paula about Dolores, and she tells him that the girl is the daughter of Don Carlos Ybarra. When Tom informs Don Carlos that his daughter might be in danger, the old man tells the detective that Dolores traveled to the United States to help an artist friend recover a painting. Don Carlos and Tom begin to search for Dolores, but are too late, for her body is found drowned in the lake. Tom then returns to his hotel room, where he finds Manuel going through his luggage and fires him. Soon after, Hughes arrives at the hotel without his famous diamond ring. At dinner that night, Barbara collapses at the table, a victim of poisoning. When Tom concludes that whoever poisoned Barbara also killed Dolores and the art dealer to prevent them from discovering if Wade is alive, Paula remarks that Raquel has a strong motive to insure Wade remains dead. Anton responds by accusing Paula of killing the art dealer because he recognized her forgeries of Wade's paintings. After Barbara recovers from the poison, Paula disappears and Tom searches her room and finds the missing portrait hidden in her desk. Tom then goes to the lake looking for Paula, where he finds her dead body in a boat. As he approaches the corpse, Manuel appears and reveals that he is an undercover Mexican police officer. Back at the plaza, Barbara leaves with a woman who has offered to take her to her father. When Tom and Manuel return to the inn, they discover that Barbara is missing and follow her to an island, where they find her at her father's graveside. When Tom removes the headstone, however, they discover that the crypt is empty, prompting the woman to admit that Anton paid her to bring Barbara to the grave. As the villagers celebrate a fiesta, Manuel's officers report that a dancer's costume has been stolen, and Tom deduces that Wade must have stolen it to disguise himself. When Tom and Manuel leave to question the dancers, a masked man approaches Barbara and reveals himself to be her father. Wade explains that he disappeared because his life was a failure, but when his paintings became valuable after his alleged suicide, he could not turn back. As he begins to warn Barbara that their lives are in danger, he is shot in the back and falls to the ground, dead. Drawn by the sound of the gunshot, Tom concludes that Hughes killed Wade because a living artist would render his paintings worthless. When Manuel confirms Hughes' s financial troubles and the sale of his diamond ring, they decide to set a trap for Hughes by pretending that Wade is still alive. After donning Wade's disguise, Tom walks onto the plaza and Hughes takes aim from a balcony. Before he can fire, however, he is shot by Manuel and falls from his perch. With the killer brought to justice, Tom bids farewell to his Mexican friends and boards a plane bound for home.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 4 Nov 1944|
|Release Date:||1944||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.|
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