BLACKMAIL. Republic Pictures, 1947. William Marshall, Adele Mara, Ricardo Cortez, Grant Withers, Stephanie Bachelor, Richard Fraser, Roy Barcroft, George J. Lewis, Tristam Coffin, Eva Novak. Screenplay: Royal K. Cole & Albert deMond, based on the story “Stock Shot” by Robert Leslie Bellem in the July 1944 issue of Speed Detective. (Added later; see comments.) Director: Lesley Selander.

   So, the folks over at Republic, acquire this story by Robert Leslie Bellem about none other than our pal Dan Turner, the Hollywood Detective, he of the colorful patter and the dames falling at his feet and mostly out of what clothes they are barely wearing, inspiring some of the most outrageous euphemisms for the female anatomy in the history of the English language.

   Assuming it is the English language. With Dan Turner you can’t be sure.

   Anyway, here is our Dan (William Marshall) sporting the moniker Daniel J. Turner, a New York Eye imported to Hollywood to work for big time playboy Ziggy Cranston (Ricardo Cortez, and no relation to Lamont) who owns among other assets a radio network.

   Seems Ziggy has been playing with some rough types, and he is so scared he even pulls a gun on Dan. Lucky for Ziggy, Dan is playing nice and doesn’t slug him the way he did Ziggy’s chauffeur who tried to crease Dan’s pork pie with a wrench by way of greeting.

   Everybody is on edge but Dan, and you don’t want to get Dan on edge.

   Turns out Ziggy is a playboy first class, and somebody is blackmailing him claiming to have evidence he murdered a singer of the very female type. Ziggy swears the chanteuse wasn’t killed by him, but he wants the blackmailer off his back and can’t afford the bad publicity.

   Even though Dan has traveled across the country, he’s not so sure he wants to get involved. Too bad for him, the blackmailers already figure he is involved and would like to do something permanent about that.

   Like six feet under permanent.

   As you might expect, Dan is soon up to his eyebrows in wise cracks, fists, and dames like classy Sylvia Duane (Adele Mara) plus hoods with names like Spice Kellaway, Blue Chip Winslow, and Pinky (Roy Barcroft, George J. Lewis, and Tristam Coffin), a Pepe Le Peu named Antoine le Blanc (Richard Fraser) and a tough cop named Donaldson who would like Dan to quit shooting up the local hoodlums and go back to New York.

   Not our Dan though. Not when Ziggy is arrested for yet another murder, and only Dan has the grey matter needed to untwist the tangled web of who murdered whom and why, and drive Donaldson batty too.

   It’s a pretty fast paced affair you might enjoy if you take off your size twelves and sit back with a bourbon and chaser to ease you over the bumpy parts. The screenplay at least tries to capture something of Dan’s colorful badinage, and if the dames aren’t quite as pneumatic as those in Mr. Bellem’s stories, well, those models didn’t come along until a few years later with the likes of MM, Jayne, Diana D, and Mamie.

   The Marshall guy tries hard, and at times almost succeeds though he’s plenty vanilla for a guy as colorful as Dan Turner. And it is a Republic picture so the fights are first class. Nobody can fault a Republic stuntman when it comes to action.

   But I have to admit I sure wish the censor had shut his sensitive little ears and let Dan riff on some of his favorite anatomical assets. That Bellem music is unique like Krupa on the drums or Harry James on the horn, and this little cinema masterpiece could sure use it, hard as it tries.