Dave Connor (Robert Newton) has been hired by a mobster, Terrell (Charles Oliver), to fix a dog race. Instead, Connor bets on the dog Terrell wanted to have sidelined and wins big. Terrell is not happy. He and his goons, Madison (Bruce Seton) and Steve (Julian Vedey), corner Dave before he gets on a train out of London and stab him.
Meanwhile, Young fresh-faced Eileen (Rene Ray) is getting off a train coming from a small town. She is fascinated with London and plans on getting a job in the big city. When she gets off the train, Eileen is advised by another traveler to call Scotland Yard and ask about a safe hotel to rent a room. While on the phone Dave comes up to her just after he has been stabbed. Wounded he takes the phone from her and tries to call his brother, Jim Connor (John Mills) but can’t get through. He convinces her that he knows of a nice hotel. He escorts her, past Terrell and his goons, to the Majestic Hotel where he drops Eileen off.
When he realizes that Terrell has followed them to the hotel he goes to her room and asks for her help. Eileen realizes that Dave is wounded. As Dave is dying, he asks her to go to the Green Cockatoo nightclub find his brother Jim and tell him the word “Terrell”. The hotel maid (Aileen Marson) sees Dave on the bed, thinks that Eileen stabbed the dead man, and calls the cops.
Eileen makes it to the Green Cockatoo but the bartender, under standing orders from Jim to tell anyone that he is unavailable, tells her that Jim is not in. When the police show up Eileen tries to hide and ends up in Jim’s room. Jim recognizes her as being naïve and as someone different from the normal women he sees. He immediately becomes a little smitten with her. Not knowing who Jim is, Eileen asks for his help. Jim sees that she is running from the police, who he is not too fond of, and decides to help her. When they sneak out he realizes that Terrell and his goons are following him and Eileen. The couple tries to elude both the cops and the mob, not knowing that they are connected to each other through Jim’s brother Dave.
“The Green Cockatoo” AKA “Four Dark Hours” AKA “Race Gang” was released in 1937 and was directed by William Cameron Menzies. It is a British crime drama with noir elements and was based on a story by Graham Greene. Although technically a quota quickie, the movie has a lot more going for it than you would think. It may not be all that well known, but it is generally considered one of the first British noir films.
I liked this film a lot. It is fast paced and easy to follow. The plot is not too deep or too complicated. Once Jim and Eileen get together is plays a little like a rom com. The acting all around was good. John Mills got slammed by some for his persona of channeling James Cagney at times but, of course, I have to disagree with that. I found Mills’ interpretation of his character as someone with a soft heart but rough around the edges. He is very protective of Eileen but can handle himself around mobsters. What more could you ask for in a guy?