TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME. 20th Century Fox, 1941. Cesar Romero, Virginia Gilmore, Milton Berle, Charlotte Greenwood, Sheldon Leonard, Stanley Clements, Frank Jenks. Director: H. Bruce Humberstone.

   Even though this film is heavily populated by hoodlums and hardened criminals of all kinds, starting from Cesar Romero on down, what it really is is a comedy romance, as I’ve already categorized it. Not a single dark and gritty scene to be seen.

   There is a bit of a mystery at the beginning, though. Why does Milton Berle, Romero’s number one henchman, put the former’s trademark cigars in the mouths of three bodies discovered at a mom and pop store shootout? Answer: to implicate his boss, but why?

   Shift of scene to a department store where Romero spots a good-looking girl (Virginia Gilmore) who’s in charge of the section where mothers drop off their children to play while they go on to do their shopping. A conversation between the two is struck up, and before he knows it, Romero has hired Gilmore as a nanny for his children.

   The problem is, you guessed it, he doesn’t have any children, and he has to go find one, a very truculent Stanley Clements. The romance goes on its semi-rocky way from there, while at the same time, Romero has to deal with a gangster from the other side of town (Sheldon Leonard) who’s trying his best to crowd in on the former’s territory.

   The result is only mild fun, nothing more, even at the time. What is fun now, some 75 years later, is watching a nicely assembled gang of professional actors go through their paces.

Note:   Go here for Walter Albert’s comments on this very same film, posted over six years ago on this blog.