Dangerous Blondes, 1943

Murder at a fashion photography studio, and how 'I got out of the Spanish American War in '99...'

Light-hearted murder-mystery tale of a detective fiction writer (Allyn Joslyn) and his wife (Evelyn Keyes) who get caught up in helping the local police solve a murder at a fashion photography business. Though the story twists around without giving away any obvious solution and like a legitimate mystery keeps threatening to get more of the cast killed, the police only really have to wonder about who slew the wealthy Mary Forbes (Isabel Fleming) who is slashed across the throat with a "wound big enough to have been done by a bayonet," says the coroner.

A nervous and rattled Edmund Lowe runs the photography business where the body is found, and this is just one more problem on top of others. He is on the verge of bankruptcy and he's got a wife (played by Ann Savage) who is trying to divorce him, but he claims to the investigator (Frank Craven) the last person he'd want to die would be Mrs. Forbes since she was planning to financially help him escape his impending financial collapse. On the other hand, his not-quite-yet-ex-wife is the niece and sole heir to Forbes' fortune, which gives a more sinister view of motivations.

Though solving the murder-plot is pretty important to the structure of Dangerous Blondes, (and there are a lot of blondes herein: Anita Louise, Lynn Merrick, Savage and Keyes) the film writers (Richard Flournoy, Jack Henley, Audrey Roos) plant quite a few running jokes into the tale that get funnier each time they come into view. The B-movie budget means most of our time is spent moving around the office building set where the murder takes place. To take advantage of this a lot of screen time is given to the elevator operator ("Pop" played by Hobart Cavanaugh) who can't answer a question without starting off with "Well, I got out of the Spanish-American war in '99" and then chronicles his misadventures in marriage, liver trouble (from drinking) and gall-bladder trouble (also from drinking) until he works up to the point in his time-line that holds the answer to the original question asked, and any interruption sends "Pops" back to the beginning to start again. Also on screen is William Demerest who provides pratfalls and periodically mugs into the camera while working as a policeman.

But mostly who we see in Dangerous Blondes are Allyn Joslyn and Evelyn Keyes, racing about trying to sort out who-killed-who. Evelyn Keyes sometimes voices her snappy lines with a Myrna Loy-like phrasing, and Allyn Joslyn gives his character a faintheartedness that lies beneath an otherwise eager bravery that sets this amateur sleuth into a different category than the Nora and Nick Charles model we're used to from the similarly funny and better known (and bigger budgeted) Thin Man movies.

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Original Page November 13, 2023