The Falcon
(aka Michael Waring, Gay Stanhope Falcon, Gay Lawrence, Tom Lawrence)
Created by Drexel Drake (pseudonym of Charles H. Huff; 1887?-1959); or possibly, Michael Arlen

THE FALCON was the nom de guerre of a true man of mystery.

He was either MICHAEL WARING, a shadowy figure who took on the underworld with the aid of his friend Sarge, avoiding the police because they tended to blame him for their unsolved crimes, created by Drexel Drake in 1936 and originally appearing in a series of novels and at least one short story.

Or he was GAY STANHOPE FALCON, a sort of freelance adventurer and troubleshooter, definitely on the hardboiled side,.created by Michael Arlen in a 1940 short story.

Either way, though, he was a man who made his living "keeping his mouth shut and engaging in dangerous entreprises," according to Otto Penzler et al's Detectionary. And, like Boston Blackie, a long, lucrative and convuluted career in film, radio and television soon followed, as The Falcon's occupation and even his name were changed from medium to medium.

Regardless of the date of his first literary appearance, The Falcon was first brought to the screen in a 1941 RKO film, as a replacement for its popular series of B's featuring Leslie Charteris' The Saint. Except for the name change, at first at least it was pretty hard to tell the difference. The Falcon was also a good-looking suave, sophisticated type, a sort of freelance gentleman adventurer. The first film, 1941's The Gay Falcon, proved successful enough to warrant a long string of sequels, three with George Sanders (who had previously played The Saint) in the lead, although he was now called GAY LAWRENCE (as far as I know, none of the films or television or radio episodes ever explains why he's known as The Falcon) and nine more with Sanders' real-life brother, Tom Conway, as the Falcon's brother, TOM LAWRENCE.

Over the course of the RKO series, the Falcon gradually became more of your standard private eye. In fact the third Falcon flick, 1942's The Falcon Takes Over, was the first filmed adaptation of Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, substituting The Falcon for Philip Marlowe. (And actor Tom Conway went on to play Mark Saber on American television).

Capitalizing on the films' success, there were two novels written "by" George Sanders, one of which is a Falcon/Saint send-up. One of the books was written by Leigh Brackett and the other by Craig Rice, who had supposedly worked on some of the Falcon films.

The success of the films also led to a radio series that premiered on the American Blue Network in April 1943, and aired for the next ten years on various networks. It was here that his transition into a private eye was finalized, with The Falcon, now called MICHAEL WARING working as a hardboiled insurance investigator, with an office and a secretary, Nancy. Barry Kroeger was the first radio voice of the Falcon, followed by James Meighan, Les Tremayne, George Petrie, and Les Damon. Nearly all the shows were broadcast from New York.

Each show usually started out with a telephone call to The Falcon from a beautiful woman. Answering in his slightly British accent, he would reply to her and another adventure would follow. Waring was snappy and sarcastic with the incompetent police who were inevitably unable to solve the mysteries without his help. Like the films, the radio plots mixed danger, romance and comedy in equal parts. A total of about 70 shows, representing the length of the run, are available today.

It was this version of the Falcon that was made into another short series of films, three in all, with John Calvert as Waring, produced by Film Classics. And it was this film version of the Falcon that in turn was adapted, in the mid-fifties, for a brief syndicated television series, starring Charles McGraw now as a slightly more hardboiled, and less dashing Falcon. but again, his occupation had changed. He was now a "famous undercover agent" who operated "around the world on his hazardous missions," as the promos put it.

As Richard Meyers points out, in TV Detectives, "the character had come full circle. The Mike Waring the gravel-voiced McGraw played was basically the same rough-hewn adventurer Arlen had presented to his readers in 1940."

Or, we assume, Drake in 1936.

HUH?

  • The controversy surrounding the identity of The Falcon's creator seems to rest largely on the fact that the radio series always credited Drake as the creator, but the films always credited Michael Arlen. Adding to the confusion was the fact that in the films, the character's real name was Gay Lawrence (until his brother Tom took over the mantle), while in the radio shows he was known as Michael Waring. For more on this, please see On the Trail of Drexel Drake's Falcon: An Investigation by Frank Derato.

SHORT STORY

  • "Gay Falcon" (1940, Town and Country Magazine)

FILMS

  • THE GAY FALCON
    (1941, RKO)
    67 minutes, black and white
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Screenplay by Frank Fenton and Lynn Root
    Based on the story by Michael Arlen
    Directed by
    Irving Reis
    Starring
    George Sanders as GAY LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Wendy Barrie, James Gleason, Allen Jenkins, Anne Hunter, Gladys Cooper, Edward Brophy, Arthur Shields, Damian O'Flynn
    .
  • A DATE WITH THE FALCON
    (1941, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Irving Reis
    Starring
    George Sanders as GAY LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Wendy Barrie, James Gleason, Allen Jenkins.
    ..
  • THE FALCON TAKES OVER...Buy this DVD
    (1942, RKO)
    Based on Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler, and characters created by Michael Arlen
    Adapted by Lynn Root and Frank Fenton
    Directed by
    Irving Reis
    Starring
    George Sanders as GAY LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Helen Gilbert, Lyn Bari, Ward Bond, Ann Revere, Turhan Bey, Hans Conried, James Gleason, Allen Jenkins.
    .
  • THE FALCON'S BROTHER
    (1942, RKO)
    63 minutes, black & white
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Screenplay by Craig Rice and Stuart Palmer
    Directed by Stanley Logan
    Produced by
    Maurice Geraghty
    Starring George Sanders as GAY LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    and Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE
    Also starring
    Cliff Clark, Jane Randolph, Don Barclay, Edward Gargan, James Newill, Charlotte Wynters, Eddie Dunn, Keye Luke, Amanda Varela, George J. Lewis, Gwili Andre
    ..
  • THE FALCON STRIKES BACK
    (1943, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Edward Dmytryk
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE FALCON IN DANGER
    (1943, RKO)
    69 minutes, black & white
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Screenplay by Craig Rice and Fred Niblo Jr.
    Directed by William Clemens
    Produced by
    Maurice Geraghty
    Starring Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Amelita Ward, Jean Brooks, Elaine Shepard, Richard Davies, Cliff Clark, Edward Gargan, Clarence Kolb, Felix Basch, Richard Martin, Erford Gage, Ian Wolfe, Eddie Dunn
    .
  • THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS
    (1943, RKO)
    68 minutes
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by William Clemens
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Jean Brooks, Rita Corday, Amelita Ward, Isabel Jewel, George Givot, Cliff Clark, Dorothy Malone, Ian Wolfe, Edward Gargan, Olin Howlin
    .
  • THE FALCON OUT WEST
    (1944, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by William Clemens
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE FALCON IN MEXICO
    (1944, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by William Berke
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE FALCON IN HOLLYWOOD
    (1944, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Gordon Douglas
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE FALCON IN SAN FRANCISCO
    (1945, RKO)
    Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE FALCON'S ALIBI
    (1946, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Ray McCarey
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Elisha Cook, Jr.
    .
  • THE FALCON'S ADVENTURE
    (1946, RKO)
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by William Berke
    Starring
    Tom Conway as TOM LAWRENCE, THE FALCON
    .
  • THE DEVIL'S CARGO
    (1948, Film Classics)
    61 minutes
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by John F. Link
    Starring
    John Calvert as MICHAEL WARING, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Rochelle Hudson, Roscoe Karns, Lyle Talbot, Tom Kennedy, Theodore Van Eltz, Paul Regan
    .
  • APPOINTMENT WITH MURDER
    (1948, Film Classics)
    67 minutes
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Jack Bernhard
    Starring
    John Calvert as MICHAEL WARING, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Catherine Craig, Lyle Talbot, Jack Reitzzen, Peter Brocco
    .
  • SEARCH FOR DANGER
    (1949, Film Classics)
    62 minutes
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Directed by Don Martin
    Starring
    John Calvert as MICHAEL WARING, THE FALCON
    Also starring
    Albert Dekker, , Myrna Dell, Douglas Fowley, Ben Welden

RADIO

  • THE FALCON
    (1943, NBC Blue; 1945, Mutual; 1950, NBC)
    30-minute episodes, weekly
    Based on characters created by Drexel Drake
    Writers: Palmer Thompson, Eugene Wang, Stanley Niss, Jay Bennett, Bernard Dougall
    Directors:
    Carlo De Angelo, Stuart Buchanan, Richard Lewis
    Producers: Bernard Schubert, Jr.
    Announcers: Russ Dunbar, Ed Herlihy
    Starring Barry Kroeger as MICHAEL WARING, THE FALCON
    (later replaced by James Meighan, Les Tremayne, George Petrie, and Les Damon)
    with Joan Banks as Nancy
    Also starring
    Ethel Everett, Joan Alexander, Mandel Kramer, Robert Dryden
  • "Murder Is A Family Affair" (November 27, 1945)
  • "Murder Is A Bad Bluff" (November 1, 1948)
  • "Murder Is A Knockout" (February 20, 1949)
  • "The Case of the Amorous Book-Keeper" (May 14, 1950
  • "The Case of the Quarrelsome Quartet" (September 3, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Worried Champion" (Septembe5 10, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Double Deal" (September 17, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Friendly Target" (September 24, 1950)"
  • "The Case of the Talented Twins" (October 1, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Careless Client" (October 15, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Double Nephews" (October 22, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Double Exposure" (October 29, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Rich Racketeer" (November 5, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Widow's Gorilla" (November 12, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Puzzling Pinup" (November 19, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Stooge's Errand" (November 26, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Harried Husband" (December 3, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Raw Deal" (December 10, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Baby Brother" (December 17, 1950)
  • "The Case of the Invisible Thug" (January 7, 1951)
  • "The Case Of The Happy Hoodlum" (January 14, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Substitute Target" (January 21, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Bellicose Boxer" (January 28, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Neighbor's Nightmare" (February 4, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Mighty Muscle" (February 11, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Superfluous Murder" (February 18, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Practical Choker" (February 25, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Gangster's Girl" (March 4, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Unsilent Butler" (March 11, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Witty Widow" (March 18, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Talented Texan" (March 25, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Worried Wife" (April 1, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Carved Hand" (April 8, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Shopkeeper's Gun" (April 15, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Missing Miss" (April 22, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Big Talker" (April 29, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Flaming Club" (May 6, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Dutch Doll" (May 13, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Curious Cop" (May 20, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Unwelcome Wife" (May 27, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Proud Papa" (June 6, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Sweet Swindle" (June 13, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Broken Fingerprint" (June 20, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Nervous Shakedown" (June 27, 1951)
  • "The Case of Everybody's Gun" (July 4, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Vanishing Varmint" (July 11, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Cautious Cousin" (July 18, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Plenty Twenty" (July 25, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Hypocritical Hypo" (August 1, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Loose Lip" (August 15, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Beautiful Bait" (August 22, 1951)
  • "The Case of the Missing Patient" (February 14, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Missing Patient" (February 17, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Gold Ring" (February 24, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Natural Seven" (February 21, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Killer's Key" (March 6, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Grand Gamble" (March 13, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Murdering Misses" (March 20, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Deadly Dame" (April 3, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Handy Helpmate" (April 10, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Jumping Jack" (April 17, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Weeping Willow" (April 24, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Fatal Fix" (May 1, 1952)
  • "The Case of the King Of Hearts" (May 8, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Falling Star" (May 15, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Burning Bridges" (May 29, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Dirty Dollars" (June 5, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Vanishing Visa" (June 19, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Menacing Madamoiselle" (June 26, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Babbling Brooks" (July 3, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Running Waters" (July 10, 1952)
  • "The Case of the King Of Clubs" (July 17, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Broken Key" (July 24, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Lonely Hunter" (July 31, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Rolling Stones" (August 7, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Gorgeous Greek" (August 14, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Silent Butler" (August 21, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Careless Corpse" (August 28, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Jack Of Diamonds" (September 7, 1952)
  • "The Case of the Strawberry Blonde" (September 14, 1952)
  • "The Invisible Thug" (1952)

TELEVISION

  • ADVENTURES of the FALCON
    (1955, Syndicated)
    39 episodes
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen
    Writer: Eugene Wang
    Director:
    George Waggner
    Producers: Buster Collier and Harry J. Brown
    Produced by Federal Telefilms
    Starring Charles McGraw as THE FALCON

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Adam Jezard for his help with this page. Also, a big thank you to Jack French for the radio info.


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