I LOVE TROUBLE Franchot Tone

I LOVE TROUBLE. Columbia Pictures, 1948. Franchot Tone, Janet Blair, Janis Carter, Adele Jergens, Glenda Farrell, Steven Geray, Tom Powers, Lynn Merrick, John Ireland, Donald Curtis, Eduardo Ciannelli, Robert Barrat, Raymond Burr, Eddie Marr, Sid Tomack. Screenplay by Roy Huggins, based on his book The Double Take. Director: S. Sylvan Simon.

   I have any number of things I need to tell you about this film, and I do not know where to begin. But perhaps the most essential thing you need to know is that this is a private eye movie, and that the PI who stars in it, impersonated by Franchot Tone, is Stu Bailey, who later became much more famous as the star of the television series, 77 Sunset Strip, in which he was played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

   I could understand the latter as being a gent who could turn the heads of any number of women as he walks by, if not actually being the object of the whistle of the wolf, but Franchot Tone, somewhat less so. As you can see from the list of cast members, there are any number of women in this film, including the former Torchy Blane, aka Glenda Farrell, now relegated to the role of Helen “Bix” Bixby,” faithful secretary. It’s an important role, but to my mind, it’s still a relegation.

I LOVE TROUBLE Franchot Tone

   Bailey is hired in this movie to follow the wife of an important man in his neck of the woods, which is Los Angeles, or if not, one of the important suburbs.

   Either way, the wife of this important man is accused anonymously of having secrets in her past, which includes Portland, where she was a nightclub dancer, and Los Angeles, where she was a bubble bath entertainer.

   From which point many leads open up, and many clichés of the gumshoe business ensue as well, and quite excellently so, including witty repartee (of course); being run down by an automobile in a dark alley; being followed by car in a high speed chase before the tables are turned; finding his room and office ransacked; being slugged on the head from behind; being kidnapped by the ransackers and then being drugged by a nurse with a needle with nefarious intent and more. And as suggested above, all kinds of women (other than the nurse) become involved, some essential to the plot, some not.

I LOVE TROUBLE Franchot Tone

   And speaking of plot, I do not believe that anyone can watch this movie and follow the plot all of the way through. It is complicated.

   Perhaps as complicated as the 250 page novel the movie is based on, which I thought I had read when I started this movie, but which I quickly decided I had not.

   In any case, I have watched this movie twice, so far, and I think everything makes sense to me. Luckily I was watching on DVD and I could back up whenever I needed to, which was on the second time through, since I didn’t realize I needed to – the first time, that is.

   Unhappily, Raymond Burr has only two lines of dialogue. Distinctive lines of dialogue, true, but only two.

I LOVE TROUBLE Franchot Tone

[UPDATE] 10-13-10. Turns out that Jeff Pierce did a long review of The Double Take a while ago, the Huggins book that this movie is based on. He apparently read a later paperback edition that updated the story a little bit, to make it a better fit for the TV series, but it didn’t seem to affect the details of the plot any. Jeff also includes huge chunks of the story itself, making his comments doubly worth reading. You can find it here.