THE LONE WOLF IN PARIS. Columbia, 1938. Francis Lederer, Frances Drake, Walter Kingsford, Leona Maricle, Albert Dekker. Director: Albert S. Rogell. Based on the character created by Louis Joseph Vance.

   Michael Lanyard, also known as The Lone Wolf, appeared in eight novels written by Vance between 1914 and 1934; in 24 movies between 1917 and 1949; in a 1948 radio show on Mutual; and in a 1954-55 syndicated TV series. (I didn’t want you to think we were talking about any old fly-by-night sort of character here.)

The Lone Wolf in Paris

   By the end, he was essentially a good guy, almost but not quite a private eye, I believe, but he didn’t start out that way. In the beginning he was a gentleman European jewel thief, pure and simple, but his penchant for helping beautiful women in distress eventually convinced him that working for the law instead of against not only had the advantage of being able to continue his narrow-escape adventures, but without the disadvantage of always having the police close behind his heels. At least theoretically, anyway.

   In The Lone Wolf in Paris, suave Czechoslovakian-born Francis Lederer’s only opportunity to play him, Lanyard is on the edge of reform. He has letters from heads of police departments from all over Europe to vouch for him, but the hapless manager of the Paris hotel where he is staying immediately has a suspect in hand when robberies begin taking place in several rooms of his establishment.

   In the hotel at the same time, it seems, are three rich members of Arvonne royalty, who between them have the crown jewels of their country. (Arvonne is a small country found somewhere on the map near France, we are led to believe.) Princess Thania (Frances Drake) desperately needs them back. Once the people of Arvonne learn that they are missing – a good deed gone bad – the Queen will be forced to abdicate.

   There is a lot of pleasant thievery and derring-do packing into the 66 minutes of this movie. There are also a few brief opportunities for romance between all of the switches back and forth between the real gems and fake ones made of paste. It’s a minor film, but a very enjoyable one nonetheless. The hour and change in running time goes by very quickly.