DARK STREETS OF CAIRO. Universal, 1940. Sigrid Gurie, Ralph Byrd, Eddie Quillan, Katherine DeMille, Rod La Rocque, George Zucco, Yolande Donlan, Lloyd Corrigan and Henry Brandon. Written by Alex Gottlieb. Directed by László Kardos.

   An afterthought to The Mummy’s Hand (also 1940) with the same sets, music and extras. George Zucco even wears the same shiny fez! But the players somehow manage to carry it off.

   Alex Gottlieb’s script is nothing special, and the characters are strictly from boilerplate: Stuffy old archeologist (Wright Kramer) his brash young assistant (Ralph Byrd) and the assistant’s wing man (Eddie Quillan) icy aristocratic lady (Sigrid Gurie) just waiting to be melted, dance hall girl (Yolande Donlan) with a heart of gold and a jealous boyfriend (Henry Brandon) etc. etc.

   The actors are so accustomed to parts like these by now they slip into character gracefully and even with a certain amount of authority. Rod La Rocque makes an effective Police Inspector, up against suave master criminal George Zucco, and their wit-matching scenes have that kick that comes when two veteran actors strike sparks together.

   The plot also has a few unusual wrinkles. Stuffy old Kramer has unearthed the priceless jewels that usually turn up in movies like this, and Zucco wants them. In fact, he has already arranged a sale to wealthy collector Baron Stephens (Lloyd Corrigan – and come on now: “Baron Stephens?” Really?) with a cover story that Kramer is selling them under the table, and he’s even got some fakes to switch with the real jewels, when henchman Henry Brandon bungles the theft by killing Kramer — which tips off Baron Stephens that it’s kinda shady under that there table. But when Corrigan backs out of the deal, Zucco abducts him, with an eye to framing him for Kramer’s murder. So it’s up to Byrd and Gurie — who turns out to be Corrigan ‘s daughter — to find and rescue him.

   That’s a lot of plot to squeeze into less than an hour, but director Kardos steps on the gas and runs through it with speed that defies illogic in the plot.

   I’m not here to tell you Dark Streets of Cairo is an undiscovered classic. Bu it’s a little better than it needed to be, and fans of fast-paced B-movies won’t regret watching this one.