Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Edward Arnold plays as blind detective Duncan Maclain in this adaptation of Baynard Kendrick's The Odor of Violets.  (He would play Maclain one more time in 1945's The Hidden Eye.)  Maclain first appeared in book form in 1937's The Last Express.  Blinded in World War I, Maclain nevertheless returns to New York to open a detective agency.  Aided by his two trained German shepherds, Schnuke and Dreist, he proves to be a formidable opponent.  Maclain appeared in a dozen novels and four short stories from 1937 through 1961.  The character was renamed and repurposed in the 1971-2 James Franciscus series Longstreet.

In Eyes in the Night, Maclain visits and old friend (Ann Harding) who is being bothered by a former boyfriend (John Emery) who is now courting her 17-year-old stepdaughter (played by a youthful Donna Reed).  Reginald Denny plays Ann Harding's husband.  Of course, John Emery is murdered and of course Duncan Maclain solves the case with the aid of his guide dog Friday.  (The dog actually should have gotten co-star billing; he's great in this.)  But there are sinister forces at work and soon Maclain uncovers a Nazi plot to steal Reginald Denny's military secrets.

An enjoyable B movie with a fine cast of supporting characters, including Rosemary Clooney, Allen Jenkins, Barry Nelson, and Mantan Moreland, with uncredited appearances by Milburn Stone and Marie Windsor.

Mystery novelist Baynard Kendrick (1894-1977), by the way, was very involved with blind veterans and worked as an instructor for them during World War II.  He was also the first American citizen to volunteer in the Canadian Army during World War I.  Kendrick was a founder of the Mystery Writers of America, held its first membership card, served as its first president, and was named a MWA Grandmaster in 1967.

Eyes in the Night is a great way to spend 80 minutes.  Enjoy.