The Inner Circle is a 1946 film inspired by the 1944 radio series Results Incorporated. Private Investigator Johnny Strange (Warren Douglas) is on the phone placing an ad for a new secretary when a young woman named Gerry (Adele Mera) who seems perfect for the job walks in and practically hires herself. Johnny agrees as she seems to be perfect for the job. The scene is almost verbatim what happened in the first radio episode. But that’s where the plot diverges.
Before she can settle in, Gerri takes a call and tells Johnny it was from a woman wanting to hire him. Johnny goes to meet the woman who turns out to be a mysterious woman in a dark veil, speaking with an exotic accent. Johnny and the woman stumble on a dead body. The woman knocks Johnny out and then we learn she’s Gerry. She pretends to have followed Johnny and tells the police a false story that exonerates Johnny, but Johnny is determined to find the truth before the police figure out the self-defense story Gerri told was false.
There was a lot like about this film. The B-movie detective stories could fall into the trap of being formulaic. The twist on this story makes it a nice break from that. Throughout I was intrigued by what Gerri’s role in the murder was, and there’s some great tension as she is trying to throw Johnny off her trail. The lead actors and supporting players all performed well, even though there was only one actor that is recognizable to a significant number of viewers-William Frawley (aka Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy who played Johnny’s police foil. Although big fans of 1930s films might appreciate the appearance of Ricardo Cortez.
The one thing I didn’t like was the denouement scene where Johnny arranges with a police Lieutenant to expose the murderer on the air. I appreciate the nod to the age of radio drama. However, the scene was convoluted, awkward, and lacked logic, even by B-movie detective standards. Still, that scene doesn’t spoil a really intriguing film that moves at a nice pace and tells a good story.
Rating: 4.0 out of 5