TIME TO KILL Mike Shayne

TIME TO KILL. 20th Century Fox, 1942. Lloyd Nolan, Heather Angel, Doris Merrick, Ralph Byrd, Richard Lane, Sheila Bromley, Morris Ankrum, Ethel Griffies. Screenplay by Clarence Upson Young based upon Raymond Chandler’s The High Window and Brett Halliday’s character, Michael Shayne. Director: Herbert I. Leeds. Shown at Cinevent 41, Columbus OH, May 2009.

    Fox would remake The High Window as The Brasher Doubloon, with George Montgomery as Philip Marlowe, but although I must confess I have not seen that film or read the novel, I can’t imagine a more entertaining version — albeit performed at express train speed — than the sixty-one minute treatment in Time to Kill. Nor can I imagine a more effective and sympathetic protagonist than the always entertaining Shayne as incarnated by Lloyd Nolan.

    The plot is something of a mess, with enough characters and red herrings for two, maybe even three short films. For the life of me, I couldn’t give you a coherent summary of the film, but I can assure you that I wasn’t bored for a minute. It ends rather abruptly, but Nolan never msses a beat as he exits from the series, most appropriately in a taxi with his latest flame. Mike, we still miss you.