Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Adventurous Blonde (1937)

The third film in the Torchy Blane saga. Also, the third one released in 1937. This one expands the world of the reporters around Torchy and also features quite a bit of MacBride's superior, who does have an Irish accent. There's another murder to be solved. Gahagan is as gregarious as ever. And, in a very nice touch, reference is made to the previous Torchy films.
The Almost, but not quite, Happy Couple

That reference comes about from the plotline that drives the movie. A batch of reporters in the city believe that Torchy is getting all the great stories because she's engaged to Lt. MacBride. (They are trying to up that status to "married." The couple spend quite a bit of the movie trying to get married.) Now, Torchy is not above using MacBride when she needs a story. She's also not above stealing his badge and using it to open doors. But, the other reporters are mostly jealous. Torchy is very good.
That's why she gets the big stories.
Four Reporters & A Publisher

With the help of a newspaper publisher, a gaggle of four fast-talking reporters get a "fake murder" created using an actor, Harvey Hammond. as the victim. MacBride will investigate. Torchy will be there and report it. Then, it will be exposed as a fake, proving their point. But, as one might imagine, the actor actually winds up dead. And, it turns out that all the people in his household were actors that held grudges against him. Plus, there is the newspaper publisher's wife who may have had an affair Hammond...
 He's not dead yet...

The Adventurous Blonde is a fast-moving good time of a film. It begins with Torchy and MacBride on the way to get married. But, then that fake murder comes up. The investigation begins. There is a lot of time spent with the four reporters. And they all seem to be trying to do some sort of variation of The Dead End Kids. They're into mugging and being "wacky" as they set up their elaborate scheme. They may be a bit much. Once, however, the killing occurs, they fade and Torchy, with MacBride, take over.
 One of many headlines & news stories

I think the four reporters yakking it up in this film make me realize that I prefer my fast-talking and sharp-tongued reporters to be female. Male reporters acting like that just become annoying. I don't know if that makes me hilariously sexist but this film might make you think that too. Torchy is, as always, pretty wonderful. Luckily, the shenanigans between her and MacBride are still going strong. The fact that they can't quite seem to get married is a great running gag.
 Why has no one ever called me a mug?

The structure of the film is a bit wonky but, unlike Fly Away Baby, which also had an odd structure, this one is clearly moving towards a murder investigation. The body actually, properly, isn't discovered until halfway into the movie. Which means that the investigation is all in the second half. (Gosh, that is a lot of those four reporters in the first half, isn't it?) And something odd happens with the suspects for the murder. I'll try not to spoil anything...

There are four main suspects. One of them is the publisher's wife, who never seems to be an actual suspect. The other three are the actors in the "fake murder" who, throughout that portion of the film play other parts. Then, halfway through the movie, they become "themselves" and suspects. But, because they were playing different characters for so long, they never quite register as their actual characters. So, they become a series of faces that, out of their costumes, become a little tough to keep sorted in the mind. (Or, at least, my mind.)


At the same time, Torchy does some of the oddest detective work I've ever seen. It's quite cool to watch but, as with the suspects, it's slightly weird. Torchy arranges a final meeting for everyone in the police captain's office. Before all that, she spends much of the second half of the movie meeting with all of the suspects and convincing them that she thinks they didn't do it. So, during the final call out of the killer, the viewer really has no idea who Torchy is going to name. As the scene goes and the room fills up, events move faster and faster...  At some point in there, I realized who the killer was and was impressed with what Torchy did. It's not standard detective stuff. It's all done Torchy-style.
 MacBride draws his gun on a curtain

The Adventurous Blonde is pretty great. It's my favorite of the series so far. Those four reporters are annoying but they serve their plot purposes. And, luckily for us, Torchy and MacBride are still a strong couple, together or apart. The tying together of the three films through several references is a very nice touch. The series is flying high at this point. What's next?

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