Nominal star Bessie Love doesn't have a lot to do other than scream, gasp, and sob. Modern audiences will probably have the same reaction when viewing her co-star Ned Sparks.
|Don't let the door slam on you on your|
way out, Ned.
And I usually like the guy. But here, as mystery writer Wintrhop Clavering, Sparks enters a whole new world of irritating, proving that character actors should never have a lead role. Ironically, it isn't necessarily his fault. A brief perusal through the 1912 novel on which Conspiracy is based shows Clavering to be a "queer fish" (as the authors describe him), but also a serious mystery writer/amateur criminologist who could give Sherlock Holmes a run for his meerschaum.
|Yeah, that's a dead body on the floor.|
|Ned gets a call from SAG revoking his|
|She's dumbfounded by his|
The most fun one can have watching Conspiracy is counting the old movie cliches that come thick and fast. The weak-kneed leading lady. The nutty writer. The wiseguy reporter. The dumb Irish cop. The swarthy "Southern European" drug pushers. (Clavering figures out that the murder victim wasn't American because he had a pierced ear. How times change.) A climactic shoot-out in a dark room.
|Martha is knocked over by the force|
of Clavering's vitriol.
But not as much as the treatment she receives from Clavering, which is so over-the-top that one has to laugh at the sheer insanity of it. Referring to her as "that black assassin" is nothing compared to "You saber-toothed chimpanzee!" and "You fliggly-eyed flat-nosed daughter of Ham!" At least I think he said "fliggly-eyed". I don't know what it's supposed to mean, but I'm certain it isn't isn't good. I hope Howard received combat pay for the job.
|Otto Matieson waits to be discovered by|
movie geeks 86 years later.
To read about The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, go here.
To read about the original version of The Maltese Falcon, go here.
If you absolutely have to see Conspiracy, go here.