Monday, March 11, 2013

Gumshoe Joan, Take Two

Bill Reardon (Melvyn Douglas) is an unsuccessful PI.  With no clients, and loads of debts, he decides to go back to his job as an investigator for the District Attorney's office.  His wife, Sally (Joan Blondell) protests, so he jokingly gifts her with his office.  Next thing you know, a client, in the form of Lola Fraser (Mary Astor) appears. She hires Sally to find out if her husband is a cheat.  Only, within hours, Walter Fraser is dead.  Who dun it?

Thus begins the screwball There's Always a Woman (1938).  Our group had rather mixed reactions to it.  Developed as a response to The Thin Man, the big reaction was that Bill and Sally are no Nick and Nora.  The jokes tended to go on and on (sometimes way too long for some tastes.  And the over-the-top humor made the movie far less enjoyable.  

On the other hand, the film had great sets and costumes.  And some scenes were really funny.  Like a bit, late in the film, when Sally is being interrogated by the police, and is not in the least phased by the rhetoric.  Blondell could be very cute at times; other times, you wanted to give her a good spanking.  Here, we can share a little bit of the slapstick action (and it might give you a clue of why Sally is such a brat):

Finally, a couple of things to look out for: a young Rita Hayworth as the Bill's secretary (she's there for about one minute),l and Mary Astor appearing in a role very reminiscent of something a few years away - The Maltese Falcon.

Next time - another pre-code.

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