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Sleepers West (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 14 March 1941 (USA)
Mike Shayne tries to distinguish criminals from red herrings as he escorts a surprise witness via rail to a high profile trial in San Francisco.


Eugene Forde


Lou Breslow (screen play), Stanley Rauh (screen play) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Lloyd Nolan ... Michael Shayne
Lynn Bari ... Kay Bentley
Mary Beth Hughes ... Helen Carlson
Louis Jean Heydt ... Everett Jason
Edward Brophy ... George Trautwein
Don Costello ... Carl Izzard
Ben Carter ... Leander Jones - Porter
Donald Douglas ... Tom Linscott
Oscar O'Shea ... McGowan - Engineer
Harry Hayden ... Lyons - Conductor
Hamilton MacFadden Hamilton MacFadden ... Meyers - Conductor
Ferike Boros ... Farm Lady


Detective Shayne is on a train headed for San Francisco with a surprise witness (Hughes) whom many on board would like to keep from testifying at a murder trial. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 March 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sleepers East See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When the trainman receives the telegram via the train order hoop, he keeps the hoop on board. In actual railroad practice, he would have extracted the paper and dropped the hoop to the ground so that the operator could recover it for future re-use. See more »


Kay Bentley: She's an old schoolmate of mine from grammar school.
Michael Shayne: I haven't seen any old girls.
Kay Bentley: Oh, she's not old - about my age.
Michael Shayne: And still goin' to grammar school? My, she's a little mentally round-shouldered!
See more »


Followed by Blonde for a Day (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Death and an old girl friend may be after Michael Shayne on this particular train
4 February 2008 | by Terrell-4See all my reviews

For the first 40 minutes of Sleepers West, one of the Michael Shayne quickie B movies starring Lloyd Nolan, I thought we might be in the middle of tense Narrow Margin territory. Mike Shayne is hiding a secret witness on a train barreling through the night between Denver and a high profile trial in San Francisco. Her testimony can prove the innocence of a man framed for a murder...a murder that involves some very powerful people who want the case closed fast and permanently. And on that train is a killer determined to identify the witness and stop her from testifying. That's not all. Also aboard is a smart, shrewd and sexy newspaper reporter, Kay Bentley (Lynn Bari), an old romance of Mike's who is determined to find Mike's witness and get a scoop. Then there's the tall guy with a suitcase full of cash who might just be a poor shrump...or a killer, too. If that's not enough for Mike, his witness, Helen Carlson (Mary Beth Hughes), is a lush piece of frosting who enjoys a drink, has lazy eyes and lips as plump as Angelina Jolie's collagen injections.

If Sleepers West, a great, odd-sounding title, settles down to standard B movie fare toward the end, the ride at least is a lot of fun. Lloyd Nolan remains the reason to see this comedy/ mystery. Lynn Bari adds style and sexiness and has a great voice. She was a good actress who could handle comedy, drama, weepies or romance. Over a long career, she'd shrug and do the movies she was offered, and never was able to break out of the B's.

Blue, White and Perfect (1942), directed by Herbert I. Leeds, is the fourth and last in the Michael Shayne Mysteries - Volume I. In some ways, it's the best of the four. Once again we have an economical set, this time on an ocean liner steaming from Los Angeles to Honolulu. There's espionage involving industrial diamonds, murder, fist fights and a nice near- drowning in a flooding ship's compartment. The story is as complicated than the other three were, but it hold ups for the length of the movie. In this one, the ruthless Mr. Big is well disguised until the end. The confined quarters of the ship means there are lots of scrambles up and down stairways and people following each other at night in the halls. Lloyd Nolan continues his pitch-perfect portrayal of Shayne as cocky, funny, tough when he has to be and veering closely, but not close enough, toward getting married. Shayne's escape from marriage this time is cleverly handled by a corpse with a knife in its back.

Don't blame yourself if you get confused over some of the characters in these films. Mary Beth Hughes appears in three of them, Helene Reynolds in two and Marjorie Weaver in two. And they're all in leading roles never playing the same characters. Lloyd Nolan must have been as confused as Mike Shayne sometimes appears to be. And let's hear it for double- breasted suits. That's what Shayne always wears, and they look good on him.

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