Thursday 1 November 2007

The Adventurous Blonde (1937) Frank McDonald

Here's an intriguing setup for a story. Torchy Blane's competitors in the reporting business decide that the worst thing that can happen to them is for Torchy and Lt Steve MacBride to actually get married, as they're planning to do imminently, and thus allow her to continue to scoop them on all the best stories. So they team up, hire some actors and stage a fake murder with the intention that Torchy ring in an invalid story and make a fool of herself. The catch is that the whole thing backfires, the actor playing the fake corpse is really murdered and it's the Globe reporters who get to look like idiots.

They're a prize bunch too. Pete is George E Stone, the Runt from the Boston Blackie movies; Matt is William Hopper, son of gossip columnist Hedda and later Perry Mason's assistant on TV; Dud is Charley Foy of the Seven Little Foys, who I last saw in a Vitaphone short from 1928; and Mugsy is Bobby Watson, who had been acting in films for 12 years but wouldn't find his real niche for another 5, when he would play Adolf Hitler for the first time.

The rest of the cast are the same old reliables: Glenda Farrell and Barton MacLane for a start as Torchy and Steve, now the only names on the title card. There's also Tom Kennedy as Gahagan, the dumb Irish cop with all the catchphrases and a penchant for poetry; George Guhl as the awesomely dumb Desk Sergeant Graves and James Conlin as Dr Bolger the coroner, who must have so liked playing a coroner that he continued doing so even into other series, such as in Calling Philo Vance.

As for the quality, the story is pretty decent with some very cool twists and really holds together better than the first one. It's no classic but these films are a really enjoyable way to spend an hour. Just like the Thin Man movies, the dialogue alone could carry the movie, with the added benefit of a murder thrown in for good luck. The fact that the murder is an interesting one certainly can't hurt.

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