If you like older movies, even if they are very much of their time, with polished performances and gentlemen thieves, this might be the movie for you. Jack Drake (Tom Walls) is known to the police and the public as Crackerjack, the mysterious thief who steals jewels from the rich and provides funds for the poor. On a plane flight over England, four armed gangsters hold up the passengers, steal some very expensive diamonds from a millionaire, force the plane to land and make their getaway. Only later do they realize that what they thought contained the diamonds contains nothing. It seems Crackerjack was also a passenger, and stole the diamonds just before the holdup. Before long, more robberies take place, a person is killed, and Crackerjack starts getting the blame. He decides to intervene and find the gang, then see that the police find them. He does, with style. But complicating matters is the Baroness Von Haltz (Lilli Palmer), who has her eye on Drake for more reasons than simply suspecting he might be Crackerjack.
You’ll probably enjoy this movie if you tell yourself you want a nostalgia trip and if you do a little research first on Tom Walls. He was a longtime London stage actor who had great success as a farceur, acting and directing. He moved to movies as he moved to middle age, and this is one of the leading man films he made before he aged into character roles. He reminds me a little of a thin Alan Mowbray with a long nose and slicked back hair. His line deliveries are as precise as his diction.
Crackerjack is a sophisticated, sardonic comedy-thriller, and Walls waltzes through the movie in high, mannered style. If you dislike Noel Coward's acting style, you may not like Walls. I think he's a lot of fun. Lilli Palmer, in one of her early British roles after leaving Germany, is delectable. Most of the movie takes place in elegant hotel suites and large manors.
The film moves at a fast clip. Drake begins his memoirs modestly by writing, "I have been described as the master cracksman and crook of my age..." At one point the Baroness says to Jack, "We must drop everything for this!" "I'd drop anything for you," Jack says, "except my 'H's." To his secretary Jack says, "I'm going to put those gangsters out of business." "How?" his secretary asks. With perfect timing, Jack pauses for a beat, then says, "I haven't the faintest idea." Well, okay, maybe not the wittiest repartee, but Walls brings great timing and delivery to his dialogue.