The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt

A Columbia Picture (1939)

Associate Producer: Joseph Sistrom
Director: Peter Godfrey

Screenplay: Jonathan Latimer,
from novel by Louis Joseph Vance

The Stars:
Warren William as Michael Lanyard
Ida Lupino as Val Carson
Rita Hayworth as Karen
Virginia Weidler as Patricia Lanyard
Ralph Morgan billed as "Spiro", alias Mr. Gregory

Gowns by Kalloch

Black and White, 67 mins. running time

"The Lone Wolf," a character invented by Louis Joseph Vance, came to life many times on the movie screen, beginning in 1917. He was portrayed by various actors throughout the years. Warren William played the character nine times for Columbia Pictures. His run ended in 1943, but Columbia continued the series until 1949. This particular tale was adapted from Vance's novel, The Lone Wolf's Daughter, and was made under this title as a silent in 1919 and part-talkie in 1929. This picture was the penultimate "B" Rita made before her first big break in movies in Only Angels Have Wings. She got a taste of what an elevation in her status at Columbia Pictures would mean while working on The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt. It was the first time the studio provided her with her own stand-in (Ellen Duffy), and gowns created especially for her by Kalloch.

Michael Lanyard (Warren William), known as "The Lone Wolf" in his safecracking days, retired from this line of work some time ago. But Mr. Gregory (Ralph Morgan), an international spy, and his thugs, are anxious to put him back in business to steal the top-secret plans for the Palmer anti-aircraft gun from the U.S. War Department. Lanyard turns down the job. One of Gregory's men does it himself -and sets up Lanyard to take the fall. However, the crooks find that they have only obtained part of the plans. They still need Lanyard's help to get what is missing.

A beautiful brunette named Karen (Rita Hayworth) lures Lanyard away from his girlfriend, Val (Ida Lupino), to Palmer's laboratory to crack the scientist's safe. Lanyard outwits them, takes the papers they're after, leaving for them a useless set of baby carriage blueprints. Evidence left at the lab and at the War Department incriminates Lanyard. He decides that the only way to clear his name is to return the plans in their entirety to the authorities.

Lanyard leaves his set of papers with Val's father, Senator Carson (Brandon Tynan), and sets out to retrieve the plans stolen from the War Department from Gregory. He sneaks into Gregory's home and takes them, believing now that he has a complete set. Meanwhile, Gregory's men realize they were fooled at the lab. Lanyard returns home to find that the Senator was strong-armed into relinquishing his section of the plans. Police are after him. Lanyard has got to work fast to get all the documents together.

With Lanyard making things increasingly difficult for them, Karen arrives on Gregory's behalf to try and bring him into their organization. Lanyard refuses. His daughter, Pat (Virginia Weidler), then chooses the wrong time to play detective. She stows away in Karen's car and lands in Gregory's home. Lanyard soon arrives there for Pat. Then Val turns up as well, but when her rescue mission fails, she winds up locked in a basement.

Just when things look hopeless, Lanyard comes up with an idea. With Pat's help, he recovers Gregory's half of the anti-aircraft gun plans, then saves Val. In search of Lanyard, the police track him down to Gregory's home. There they arrest Gregory, Karen and the gang, and Lanyard is proven innocent.

Rita portrayed a venomous mantrap in the picture, hired to lure our hero to his doom. She was decorative in the part, which mainly called on her to make eyes at Warren William and look gorgeous in form-fitting lame and swathed in furs. Legend has it that the sight of Rita in her silver lame Lone Wolf gown brought her to the attention of director Howard Hawks, who was testing actresses for Only Angels Have Wings, a milestone picture in Rita's career.

in costume for 'The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt'
Rita models the best of the gowns created for her for The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt.

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