Dr. Christina J. Johns
I Love Trouble (1947-48)
I LOVE TROUBLE (1947)
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.
|Posted on August 3, 2020 at 5:55 PM|
EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949) JAMES MASON:
James Mason (1909-1984).
James Mason did not train as an actor. He took it up as an aside during his education.
In 1933, Mason was given a small film role by Alexander Korda in “The Private Life of Don Juan,” but Korda sacked him three days into the shooting.
In 1935, on the set of his second film, “Troubled Waters” Mason met Pamela Kellino. Pamela’s husband, Roy, was the cinematographer on the film. Mason not only became fast friends with Pamela, he moved in with Pamela and her husband and collaborated with them on several stage and screen plays.
In 1937 he had a key role in “Fire Over England” with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Then, Korda used Mason again in “The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel, 1937.
In 1938, Mason and Pamela Kellino played lovers on the run in “I Met a Murderer.” Shortly afterwards, Kellino’s husband, Roy divorced Pamela naming Mason as co-respondent. She married Mason in 1940.
They moved to Hollywood in the 1940s, where Pamela became a popular hostess. According to her son, she had had numerous affairs. She remained in Beverly Hills with “a multitude of free-range cats.” She is described as “outspoken with unrepentant, undeviating, withering aim.”
Even after the divorce, Roy remained on friendly terms with the Masons and directed two of their later films “Lady Possessed” and “Charade.”
Mason achieved considerable success in the British Cinema (The Seventh Veil, 1945, The Wicked Lady, 1945, Odd Man Out, 1947) before coming to Hollywood.
During WWII, Mason registered as a conscientious objector. This caused his family to break with him for many years. When he was approved by a board to do non-combat military service, Mason refused. Then, the issue became moot when Mason was included in a general exemption for film work.
Mason received the best reviews of his career in “Odd Man Out” (1947) where he played a mortally wounded IRA bank robber on the run.
One of Mason’s early films in Hollywood was “Madame Bovary” (1949). Many of the films Mason did during this early period were not successful. Then, he was cast as General Rommel in “The Desert Fox” (1951). Even though Mason had refused for years to sign a studio contract, he agreed to sign with 20th Century Fox for seven years at one film a year, in order to get the part of Rommel.
In 1951, Mason did another film written by his wife and directed by her former husband, Roy Kellino (Lady Possessed, 1951). In 1953, he did the very successful “Julius Caesar” with Marlon Brando.
In 1954, Mason did another film written by Pamela Mason and directed by his father in law, “Charade.”
Mason did numerous plays on television and in the 1960s settled into supporting roles.
One of Mason’s last roles was as the corrupt lawyer Ed Concannon in “The Verdict” (1982) with Paul Newman.
Mason, along with his wife Pamela, was an ardent animal lover. They especially loved cats. He and Pamela wrote a book about their cats “The Cats in Our Lives,” published in 1949. Mason wrote most of the book and illustrated it.
Mason was married to Pamela from 1941 – 1964. Wikipedia notes that Pamala Mason was active in the Hollywood social scene and was “frequently unfaithful” to her husband. Her son confirmed this. In 1962, she initiated divorce proceedings against Mason, claiming adultery on his part. There was a $1 million divorce settlement. Mason was married to Australian actress Clarissa Kaye from 1971 until his death. He often used his power to get Clarissa parts in his movies.
Mason wrote an autobiography “Before I Forget, 1981.”
Mason left everything to his second wife although the will was contested by his children with Pamela Mason. Clarissa Mason left her assets to the religious guru Sathya Sai Baba, when she died in 1994. Clarissa also left the guru Mason’s ashes. Mason’s children later sued the guru and got the ashes back.
PAMELA MASON WIKIPEDIA
Pamela Mason was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and banker who became president of the Gaumont British Picture Corporation in the early 1920s. She married cinematographer Roy Kellino in 1934, at the age of 18.
Pamela’s novel “Del Palma, 1948, was the basis for the film Lady Possessed. Another novel in 1968 was “Marriage is the first step toward Divorce.
Other famous Mason movies
• The Desert Fox
• A Star is Born
• 20,000 Leagues under the Sea
• North by Northwest
• Journey to the Center of the Earth
• Julius Caesar
• Heaven Can Wait
• The Boys From Brazil
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDB