SPECIAL AGENT K-7. C.C.Burr Productions/Puritan Pictures, 1936. Walter McGrail, Queenie Smith, Irving Pichel, Donald Reed, Willy Castello, Duncan Renaldo, Joy Hodges. Director: Bernard B. Ray, as Raymond K. Johnson.

   As the story goes, and forgive me if I have this wrong, this rather obscure B-movie of the detective mystery variety was to be the first of several films that were to be made featuring its star, Walter McGrail in the role of Vincent ‘Lanny’ Landers, otherwise known as Special Agent K-7, but none of the others were ever made. The film was also supposed be based on a well-known radio program of the day, according to PR releases at the time, but no one today knows what radio show they had in mind, if any.

   The mystery itself isn’t all that bad. A night club owner (crooked, of course) is killed in his office soon after being the beneficiary of a hung jury (paid for, again of course). There are plenty of possible suspects, including the newly married husband of tough-as-nails female reporter Olive O’Day (with polish). Immediately on hand to offer assistance are Lanny Landers and Lester Owens (Irving Pichel) , the noted attorney who had just gotten the dead man his illicit hung jury verdict.

   But even though there are any number of possible other killers, including Duncan Renaldo’s character before his Cisco Kid days, I don’t think that anyone reading this will fail to spot the real culprit long before any of the characters in the story do.

   Other than that small disappointment, the movie was also hampered by a distinct lack of star power, although most of the players had long careers in making movies, and the lack of facial recognition on my part made it difficult to keep track of which player was which. Only Queenie Smith, who was still in movies as late as 1978, stands out amongst the faceless men in suits, ties and hats, even though some had mustaches and some not.