A programmer from the past that does no harm, but isn't wort
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 02/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"--Are you troubled...frightened...suspicious...or merely curious?
--Your problem is my problem.
--Contact Johnny Strange, Private Investigator
And when the camera pans away from a gloved female finger on this Yellow Pages ad, we see on the floor a dead body. This is going to be a case that involves Johnny Strange (Warren Douglas), of Action, Inc.
It's also going to be a case with three beautiful blondes, gruff police lieutenant Webb (William Frawley), smooth, lethal hood Duke York (Ricardo Cortez) and, of course, the corpse. He was Anthony Fitch, a famous radio personality whose specialty was scandal.
For Johnny, it all started when one of those blondes, Gerry Smith (Adele Mara) walks into his office just as he was phoning in an ad for a secretary..."blonde, beautiful, between 22 and 28, and with the skin you love to touch and a heart you can't." Gerry disconnects him, claims the job for herself, and shortly is fielding a call for Johnny to meet a woman with a problem at 7 p.m. The woman turns out to be wearing a heavy veil and sporting a Spanish accent. She takes him to the home of Fitch, where Fitch's body is cooling. It's not long before Johnny is knocked on the head and set up for murder. Even when he's cleared, and trailed by Webb as well as by Gerry, he narrowly escapes a one-way dive off a cliff at the hands of Duke York. Then there is the suspicious reaction to several questions by a nightclub singer who is one of the other blondes. It's not long (for a second time; the movie only runs 57 minutes) before we learn Fitch also dabbled in blackmail and that he was just about to blow the lid off some high society secrets. Johnny figures out why his secretary has been so helpful and who the murderer is. But, of course, he can't prove it. So he gathers all the suspects, plus Webb, to recreate some key scenes in a live radio broadcast coming from the dead man's home. You guessed it...the killer panics in front of a nation-wide radio audience. Johnny gets some free publicity for Action, Inc. And it looks like Gerry is going to sign up for a permanent job.
The Inner Circle is strictly a bottom-of-the-bill programmer, but it does no harm. It combines light-hearted murder with romance, which almost always is a pleasant way to waste a little time. The gathering of the suspects for a radio broadcast where they recreate their roles is so odd and awkwardly written that it has a great deal of weird charm. I wouldn't go out of my way to buy this movie. If the price were more than $5.00 I wouldn't buy it at all. As usual with these B-level public domain cast-offs, The Inner Circle is watchable, but not much more. A lengthy scene in a car at night and then on a cliff is impenetrable. Still, one of the pleasures is Will Wright, a grand character actor, who plays the gardener on the dead man's estate. Wright was a lanky, elderly man who could be counted on to play friendly, slow-speaking old coots. He was at his best, however, as corrupt, aging, defensive whiners. When he showed us mankind's unreliable lower nature, he could give any movie he was in a kind of grubby quality. He's one of my favorites"