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 September 18, 2020 at 3:30 PM|
Dial M for Murder
Article: Deconstruction of a Scene
This article is about one scene in the film “Dial M for Murder” that between Tony Wendice (Ray Miland) and Swan (Anthony Dawson).
After introductions at the door, Swan and Wendice sit down for a conversation. During this initial segment, the camera goes back and forth between the two men, 20 times in a couple of minutes.
The camera is usually on the one speaking, but not always. Wen the camera is on the other, it is to see his reaction. This is one way of breaking the monotony of the usual two-shot conversation.
Wendice joins Swan on the sofa, and instead of being in front of the sofa, Hitchcock moves us to observing from behind the sofa. With a lamp between the two. It is as if we are spying on the two men, overhearing the conversation.
Every time the viewer might become complacent, the camera angle jars us, off guard. This is enough to kep us interested, but not enough to distract from what is a very important piece of dialogue.
Helping to set up this listening theme, there is a Japanese porcelain figurine in the picture, a man who also listens.
As Wendice establishes his control over Swan (he has information to blackmail Swan with) Hitchcock changes the camera angle on Wendice. Wendice is sitting in a chair, leaning back, confident, and the camera is below him, looking up. For most of the conversation, the camera has been at eye level, not now that Wendis has established his dominance, we are seeing him from below, looking up at him.
His tennis trophies, symbols of his competence, line the mantle over his head.
During this scene, Hitchcock has the camera move so that we can see every part of the room they are in behind Wendiss.
As the two men reach agreement, enough for Wendiss to start detailing the crime for Swan, the two men stand at the desk, the scene of the murder, with the telephone, crucial in the set up, center frame.
Then, Hitchcock does something totally unexpected, he films from the ceiling. We see the two men from above, giving us another feel for the room where the murder will take place.
(Hitchcock also used this camera angle in “Shadow of a Doubt” and “The Men who Knew Too Much.”)
The scene if more fully described in the article which gives you a good idea of how much planning and talent is involved in a Hitchcock film.