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mid-40s Republic crime comedy--good cast, but doesn't really work for me
The second film I've seen in two weeks made at Republic in the mid-40s starring Kane Richmond and Adele Mara is nowhere near as good as TIGER WOMAN (see my review). In this one, Richmond is some kind of advertising man who comes up with a concept for a women's clothing campaign (I think, based on the drawings we see) called THE THREE SPRINGS. Soon, various eccentric gangster types and crooked businessmen start expressing an interest in the campaign, feeling as though Richmond is actually making a reference to something else with the title and they are trying to cover that up. I won't give away the plot and say WHAT they think he's referring to with the ad campaign because that is the device that puts the plot, such as it is, in motion. Studios needed to churn out a certain number of b-movies per season, and often a project that might have sounded good on paper gets locked into the production schedule and it gets made even though it doesn't fully gel. That's what the problem is here. Each scene, on its own, is entertaining. Richmond--a kind of square-jawed, self-deprecating leading man who probably best resembles George Clooney among today's stars--is always a pleasure to watch. The top-billed star here Stephanie Bachelor--who was in films for a brief six year period, and who seemed to get leading roles mostly at Republic--as Richmond's girlfriend. She looks great and delivers the arguing-couple romantic banter well, but there's not much depth to her character. As for Adele Mara, she's given a thankless role here as a kind of femme-fatale, but we're not really sure how deep is her involvement with the bad guys, and the way the film disposes of her character cannot be excused. Unless my copy of the film is cut (and it's the Hollywood Television Service print, so it may be), I can't believe this script made it past ANY editor. My wife and I looked at each other as the "End" credit appeared, and asked, "What about Adele Mara"? We know what happens to her, but it is never resolved. WHAT??????? On the good side, this film is entertaining in pieces--the supporting cast (with such fine performers as Gerald Mohr and Gregory Gay) is colorful, there's a lot of witty romantic banter between Richmond and Bachelor AND Richmond and Mara. It's just that the plot doesn't hold together, the events in themselves don't command attention, and there's a rushed feel to many scenes as though the attitude was "let's get this in the can quickly." Some of the fights are the most phony I've seen in a Republic film--a studio known for its excellent stunt-men. Richmond and the bad guys seem as though they were just instructed to pull the punches because the stunt men couldn't make it today. Still, it was not an unpleasant way to kill 60 minutes and b-movie and Richmond fans will enjoy it. Bachelor and Mara are both wonderfully attractive and witty leading ladies. Just don't expend much energy or cost in trying to find a copy.
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