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Robert Z. Leonard
Rod La Rocque,
A bumbling pants presser at an upscale hotel's valet service nurses an unrequited crush on a Broadway star. He gets more than he bargained for when she agrees to marry him, to spite her womanizing fiance, and encounters Nazi saboteurs.
Relations between Dr. 'Brad' Bradford and ex-wife Paula are surprisingly romantic. They divorced because Brad hated being dragged into murder mysteries, to which mystery writer Paula is addicted. But through horse trainer Mike North, Brad is embroiled in the case of a jockey who died of "heart failure" during a race. As they pursue clues, Paula pursues Brad for remarriage, and assorted hoods pursue the Bradfords. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Paula refers to Brad as "Lochinvar back from the wars". 'Lochinvar' is the title of a romantic poem by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1808. See more »
The bite of a black widow spider is painful but rarely fatal. See more »
[Cabbie is told to pull over]
Hey, what's the idea? You can't hire a hack to go half a block!
Dr. Lawrence Bradford:
My man, you are mistaken. I've done it.
[He gives the cabbie a large bill]
Dr. Lawrence Bradford:
Forget the change.
[the cabbie is evidently satisfied and drives off]
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This movie was made the same year as the first Thin Man film, and it's another stylish black-and-white murder mystery starring the same leading man (William Powell), so comparisons are inevitable. Its script isn't nearly as strong as the best of the Thin Man flicks, but if you're a big TM fan, this film can ALMOST feel like an extra entry in the series -- except that the fabulous Myrna Loy is nowhere in sight.
Powell is just as polished here as he is in the Thin Man movies (though seeing him perform a chaste autopsy reminds you that he's playing a doctor, not Nick Charles), and he's well paired with Jean Arthur playing the titular ex-wife, who's bucking for a reconciliation with her reluctant former hubby. Her Paula comes across as a slightly smarter Gracie Allen in an endless stream of gorgeous designer gowns, sparkling diamonds, and perky hats. (In fact, if you're paying close attention, you'll notice that she switches costumes at a couple of slightly inexplicable moments.)
The couple bickers well (but not at the break-neck pace of Powell and Loy), and there is a little bit of simmering sexual tension (but again, not in the same league as P&L).
A typical exchange: Paula: She was wearing a cocktail dress. Bradford: What's a cocktail dress? Paula: (with a kooky smile) Something to spill cocktails on! Bradford: (deadpan) That sounds reasonable.
It feels like the writer couldn't quite decide if he wanted to present a relationship-driven comedy or a thrilling drama, and the undeniably talented actors seem equally confused at times. Still, it's ultimately an enjoyable film of its type (though what "type" that exactly is, is open to debate), and if you enjoy golden oldies -- and especially if you're fond of the two leads -- you won't be disappointed.
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