Created by Gertrude Walker and Beth Brown
In the enjoyable little 1951 flick Insurance Investigator (not to be confused with the dreadful 2001 straight-to-video porn flick The Insurance Investigator), TOM DAVISON of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Co. is dispatched to investigate a suspicious death.
Apparently tea-totaler wealthy real estate agent George Sullivan, who had a $100,000 double indemnity policy taken out on him, got shit-faced, and took a fatal tumble down some stairs at his office. Naturally, Cosmopolitan is a little skeptical, and so is Sullivan’s daughter, Nancy. She agrees to allow Tom to pose as her real estate agent cousin from out of town and lands him a job at her father’s company, so they can get to the bottom of things. Nancy, of course, is easy on the eyes, and it doesn’t take that long for Tom and her to start making eyes at each other, but justice comes first!
The two soon uncover a treacherous scheme involving George’s surviving junior partner, Hammond, the femme fatale company accountant Addie (who’s having an affair with Hammond) and shady nightclub owner Chuck Malone (Hadley), who Hammond owes a considerable amount of moolah.
Perhaps not the most complicated mystery (and at less than an hour, how complicated can it be?), but the film moves along nicely, with some decent twists, some then rather novel uses of wiretapping, the prerequisite number of menacing thugs, a car chase, a connect-the-dots romance, and a few slugfests so we can see how hard-boiled Tom really is.
Nothing revolutionary and hardly a lost classic, but a surprisingly pleasant diversion–you could do worse.
I don’t know much about Beth Brown, but Gertude Walker wrote both the story and the screenplay for Insurance Investigator, and had her hand in several hard-boiled crime flicks, including The Damned Don’t Cry, Whispering Footsteps and Railroaded. But in between screenwriting gigs, she managed to squeeze out an occasional novel, most notably So Deadly Fair (1948), an unfairly obscure noir classic. The French also liked it–Walker was the first woman to be published by the prestigious Serie noir.
Not bad, not bad at all….
- “Clocking in at just a trifle under an hour, this efficient little thriller must have pleased cinemagoers who experienced its initial B-feature release, and it remains very watchable today (despite a dubious joke about the Iroquois). There are plenty of worse ways to spend your hour.”
— John Grant (Noirish)
- INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR
Black & white
Story by Gertrude Walker and Beth Brown
Screenplay by Gertrude Walker
Directed by Arthur Lubin.
Starring Richard Denning
Also starring Audrey Long, John Eldredge, Hillary Brooke, Reed Hadley, Jonathan Hale, Roy Barcroft, Wilson Wood, William Tannen, Phillip Pine, Crane Whitley, Ruth Lee, Patricia Knox, M’liss McClure, Maurice Samuels