“Footsteps in the Dark” (1941) displays Errol Flynn’s ease and confidence in a comic role, and provides another showcase for his unique and unabashed charm. He carries the film, and is in practically every scene, which is good and bad. He is far and away never boring and delightful to watch; however, he’s got a great cast of character actors in supporting roles that don’t get to do too much.
He hangs out with the police to get story ideas and to help them solve their cases, because he is, of course, smarter than everybody. Especially William Frawley, who is the stupidest police detective in the universe.
They peel off their suit coats, and Flynn dictates his story into a Dictaphone (have a look here at our previous post on movie Dictaphones and tape recorders), while Mr. Jenkins types out the manuscript. We see Jenkins with transcription earphones, but I can’t tell if there is also a foot pedal. I’d love to know more about the mechanical devices and method of transcription in the 1940s if anybody has any information.
We want to see more of these great character actors, but the movie is Flynn’s, and so we see them only through his brief interaction with each one of them in turn through the course of the movie. They really are wasted.
The studio could have taken this further and made sequels, but this lightweight, breezy whodunit stands on its own.