Dr. Christina J. Johns


I Love Trouble (1947-48)


Starring Franchot Tone (43 at the time), Janet Blair, Adele Jergens and a small part for Raymond Burr.

Directed by S. Sylvan Simon.

Music by George Duning

Costumes (gowns) by Jean Louis

This is a long movie (2 hours) but well worth the watch. It is the studio’s try out of Franchot Tone’s for a private detective series. While Tone is usually fun to watch, I don’t think he has the same sort of edge as the noir detective Dick Powell had or the charm of William Powell.

As most of the reviewers point out, this script is straight out of the Chandler/Hammett line of novels with the suave, wisecracking detective, but it is well worth watching.

My favorite lines from the film are:

Heavy: This is a gun in your back.

Tone: Yeah, I’ve seen one before.

The filmscript was written by Roy Huggins and was based on his novel “The Double Take.” This same character, Stuart Bailey, was played years later by Efrem Zimalist Jr. in the television series 77 Sunset Strip.

Huggins created a number of the most famout TV movie series - Maverick, The Fugitive, The Rockford Files, and 77 Sunset Strip.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I did, however, stop it at one point and noticed that there was an hour and 8 minutes more to go. I was surprised. Some of the reviewers criticized the movie for the length, but it held my attention throughout.

It’s a bit amazing that the film does hold the attention since the plot is as one reviewer noted “confounding.” He said that he could not “figure out who was who in this impossibly complex story.”

This makes the film very much like “The Big Sleep,” which created a template for the detective film noir. “The Big Sleep” is also widely considered to be impossible to decipher, but completely enjoyable nevertheless.

Part of the difficulty in understanding the story line in this film is that even though Huggins adapted his own novel, and some of the scenes are lifted directly from the book, the story (according to a reviewer who had read the novel) has been speeded up and abbreviated and some of the names changed.

It doesn’t help that most of the women look extraordinarily alike. And most of them have multiple identities in the plot. One of the reviewers noted: “I thought the various babes were all the same person.” And, there are a lot of babes all with complicated histories.

Added to this is the fact that the two foreign husbands also looked just alike to me and their accents were indeterminate.

A number of the reviewers just could not accept Tome in the role of a smart mouthed, hardnosed detective. I have always thought Tome was an acquired taste, and he is truly dreadful in films which I suspect he detested.

(Note: There is one film he made with Joan Crawford, for example, where they had him dressed up in lederhosen.)

As one reviewer noted: “All the sweeping fedoras and dangling cigarettes in the world can't make Tone fit into this role.”

Tome always considered the business of film making as invasive to the private lives of the actors. He also felt that films required a totally different pace from theatre performances. I never saw him in a theatre performance, but I suspect he never quite felt comfortable with the film pace.

When he was married to Joan Crawford she (predictably) tried to take over promoting his career. Tome, however, was always more interested in theatre, even in small productions than film. It is thought that this difference between the two was one of the reasons for their divorce.

So, to me, Tome’s performances always have a “hostage” feel to them. I get the impression that he doesn’t really want to be where he is. But, he usually manages to pull off a credible performance.

When some heavies were beating up on Tone, I thought I saw Raymond Burr lurking on the sidelines. When the man spoke (he has about three lines) there was no mistaking it was Burr. This was an extremely small part and Burr would have been 31 at the time this film was made. So, he came into prominence a lot later in his life than I remembered.

All the prints of “I Love Trouble” were thought to have been lost for decades. A restored version of it was shown in a film festival in 2007, and I think this is the first time it has been shown on television (TCM). One reviewer snarked that this movie wouldn’t have received a second glance if it hadn’t been thought lost. I disagree. I think it is a fun romp even at two hours.

One of the other things I noticed in the film and then read comments about from other reviewers is the soundtrack. As one of the reviewers put it, the soundtrack tries way too hard to give the viewer advanced notice of the tone of the scene. The soundtrack tries to be “the star of the film.” It does signal lightheartedness, like when Bailey crawls out from under a bed where he has passed out and finds a beautiful babe in the bed. And it gives advance warning of danger. It seems to me that audiences in 1948 would have been too sophisticated for this. One of the reviewers thought that this soundtrack was so invasive and insulting he couldn’t watch the movie. But, for me, it faded into the background.

The film was well directed by S. Sylvan Simon. One of the reasons that name is not more familiar is that he died only three years after making the movie at the age of 41.


Wikipedia, IMDB



Lady of Shanghai

Posted on June 30, 2020 at 12:50 AM


Lady of Shanghai (1948)

Starring Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders

Directed by Orson Welles

Screenplay by Orson Welles based on a Sherwood King novel, “If I Die Before I Wake.”

Orson Welles had trouble getting along with Hollywood studios from the beginning of his career. Lady of Shanghai (1948), was no different.

Studio head Harry Cohn was so obsessed with Rita Hayworth he had her wiretapped. When the studio gave Welles Hayworth to develop “Lady of Shanghai” around, they evidently wanted something like “Gilda.” Welles did not give them a “Gilda.”

Hayworth was famous for her long red hair. The first thing Welles did was to get her hair cut short and dye it blond. This set him up in opposition Harry Cohn from the very beginning.

But, Welles had been guaranteed artistic license on this film. Cohn said afterward he would never again allow anybody to be actor, director and writer in one film because he couldn’t then fire them. He must have wanted to fire Welles many times during this production.

Welles had been married to Hayworth, but they were estranged at the time of the making of “Lady of Shanghai.” Hayworth nevertheless agreed to be in the film. Some thought Welles’ interpretation of her character in the film was a devastating portrayal of Hayworth herself. Some found it uncomfortably personal and vicious. Cohn thought the film would ruin her career and shelved it for a year.

Cohn instructed Welles to insert “glamour” shots of Hayworth. And because of the success of Hayworth singing in Gilda, he made Welles insert a sequence in which Hayworth sings “Please don’t Kiss Me.”

And Hayworth’s treatment wasn’t the only thing studio bosses objected to. When the first version of the completed film was shown to bosses, Cohn is said to have stood up and offered anyone in the room $1,000 to explain the plot to him. TCM film noir commentator, Eddie Muller, called “Lady from Shanghai” a “train wreck.”

Welles wasn’t much more liked by his actors than he was by studio bosses. Everett Sloan who puts in a wonderful performance as the sleazy and creepy husband had to go so far as refusing to wear the braces Welles had constructed for his character. Sloan complained that the braces were extremely painful. In the film, he uses two canes and a riveting walk.

Similarly, Glenn Anders found Welles to be difficult. He said that Welles bullied him relentlessly. Welles maintained, of course, that this treatment just pushed Anders to give a more nervous and edgy performance. Whether Anders or Welles is responsible, Anders is impossible to take your eyes off in the film. He appears and appears again like a bad dream.

Like he did with many of his films, Welles had walked off the post-production process before it was completed. As with “The Magnificent Ambersons” the ending was substantially changed by the studio. Welles had been so involved in the famous final sequence where Hayworth and her husband kill each other in a shootout in a house of mirrors, he helped construct and paint the set. But in his final version, this scene lasted 10 minutes. The studio cut it down to 4.

I have always wondered why I didn’t particularly like “Lady from Shanghai.” It was interesting to read that others didn’t like it either. But, this “train wreck” has some stunning scenes (like the fun house scenes at the end) and is worth another view.

Oh, just a note, the dog seen with Hayworth on the yacht belonged to Errol Flynn. Welles rented Flynn’s yacht for the film and Flynn stipulated in the contract that the yacht couldn’t be used unless he was present. When Flynn went off on a toot, filming had to shut down until they found him.


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