Saturday, January 4, 2020
Twenty Plus Two (1961)
David Janssen stars. He was already a fairy well-known star on television thanks to the Richard Diamond Private Detective series. In Twenty Plus Two he’s Tom Alder, a private detective of a very specialised type. He finds people. That doesn't mean he takes ordinary missing persons cases. He finds missing heirs. If someone dies leaving a large estate and there are no known heirs he goes looking for heirs who may have been overlooked. Distant forgotten relatives. He then gets a percentage of the estate. It’s a good arrangement. These people have no idea that they are in line for inheritances from relatives of whose existence they may only have been dimly aware so they’re more than happy to pay him a generous percentage. He’s happy because he makes a very comfortable living indeed for doing a job for which he was a peculiar talent - for him it’s easy work.
Alder is also finding that the past is hard to escape. He has run into Linda again. Linda Foster (Jeanne Crain) was his first love. Ten years ago she dumped him. It hurt. It hurt a lot. He had learnt to handle it but now she’s back and she wants him back and he has a feeling that he may be once again heading for a whole world of hurt.
Also unusual is the fact that he doesn’t go around interviewing witnesses and trying to pump people for information. He uses other people (real private detectives and contacts he has in useful places) to gather information. His talent is for putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, not for collecting the pieces. He just happens to be very good at putting those pieces together. He sees connections that others don’t see (such as a very minor but very significant difference between two photographs of the same person). Mostly Alder makes phone calls, patiently utilising his courses to assemble his clues (and the audience gets the same clues that Alder gets).
Frank Gruber wrote and produced the film from his own novel. Joseph M. Newman directed, and quite effectively in a very low-key manner.
The Warner Archive DVD offers a very good anamorphic transfer.
Overall Twenty Plus Two is a low-key slightly offbeat slightly noirish mystery and it’s really quite appealing. I highly recommend this one.