While the Thin Man series of films are ripe for inclusion on this site, the “gentleman detective” genre was certainly not the lone province of William Powell and crew. The Lone Wolf was another. The Lone Wolf is a jewel thief named Mike Lanyard, featured in upwards of 20 pictures, a lot more than Nick and Nora. The incarnation in The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt is portrayed by Warren William, doing a good William Powell impression, and was released in the magical year of 1939.
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Film
The Lone Wolf, a debonair jewel thief, has quit his jewel-thieving ways and is settling down with girlfriend Val Carson and daughter Patrica. A gang of spies is looking to swipe some plans for a new anti-aircraft artillery piece. The spies frame The Lone Wolf for theft to blackmail him into helping them. With the police aware of his past and unwilling to help, The Lone Wolf takes on the spy gang with Val’s mostly unwanted assistance. Despite having Rita Hayworth on their side, The Lone Wolf foils their plans and sends them all to the slammer.
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt – The Furs
It’s 1939, and this is a “gentleman’s detective” film, which means it’s only slightly less likely to have amazing furs than a “madcap heiress” film. It is certainly no disappointment in that regard, as we have both Ida Lupino and a very young, pre-super-stardom Rita Hayworth in large fox coats. Ida spends most of the film in one of 2 furs, while Rita, similarly, is rarely out of fur herself between a full-length mink and large black fox that befits her stature as the main squeeze of the spy ring leader.
Val Carson, Mike Lanyard’s girlfriend, supplies much of the film’s comedy. Played by a barely over 20 Ida Lupino, she spends a great deal of time in this silver fox-trimmed jacket. Though not visible in this shot, a silver fox muff usually accompanies it.
There’s the muff, a lovely combination with the hat and most likely a silk blouse.
And here is Karen, played by Rita Hayworth, also barely over 20 and looking very refined in this full-length short-haired coat as she prepares to crash a date between Mike and Val.
Crash she does, as Miss Lupino’s expression indicates how overjoyed she is at this development.
Throughout the film, Ida Lupino’s expressive face is one of the highlights, and here it is surrounded by silver fox fur.
Ida and Rita are not the only ones in fur in the film. This is Helen Lynd, playing a prospective buyer for The Lone Wolf’s completely legitimate antique business, who must deal with Val Caron’s jealous streak over her boyfriend.
Really jealous… Though perhaps not obvious from the stills, the scene is rather amusing and showcases Miss Lupio’s comic chops. Unfortunately, one of the few scenes in the film where she’s not wearing fur.
Somewhere around act 3, both Ida and Rita step up the fur quality, with Miss Lupino winning handily in this white fox coat.
Briefly seen holding a cigarette in this sequence, though not actually smoking, the white fox is a classic example of the period, full but lacking any collar or cuffs, cape-like.
Not completely outdone, Rita and the gang show up to help her show off her black fox stroller coat. No doubt it’s black because she’s the bad girl in this flick, accented by her veiled black hat over her dark brunette locks.
To drive that point home, she and Ida share the screen, good girl in white fox, bad girl in black fox, the way the universe intended it should be.
Like Ida earlier, Rita briefly holds a cigarette but never does much smoking.
One more shot of the two together briefly because two great foxes are always better than one.
Finally, one of the best shots of Ida Lupino’s white fox coat occurs just before “THE END,” here at the police station after The Lone Wolf’s been hauled away as his chip-off-the-ole-block daughter presents the keys to his cell.
Though certainly not the only reason this film deserves mention, it is a great film for those interested in “fur runtime.” Not quite a Forever Lulu, but you certainly won’t fall asleep waiting for the next fur to show up (and hang around). In honor of The Green Fairy’s suggestion, I’ll post some “box stats” for each film from now on, so people know roughly how long you’ll be enjoying fur on screen in the films I post. The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt definitely clocks into the top 3 at this point.
Fur Runtime: approx 20 minutes
Film Runtime: 71 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 28%