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WHITE TIE AND TAILS (reissued by Realart in 1951 as THE SWINDLERS with
taglines and marketing selling it as something it wasn't) is a comedy
(of sorts) involving gangsters and art and wine selection.
Wealthy New Yorker Andrew Latimer (John Miljan), his wife (Barara Brown) and their two children, Bill,17 (Scotty Beckett) and Betty, 15 (Nita Hunter)go on a vacation to Florida and leave their Gotham mansion in charge of Charles DuMont (Dan Duryea), their impeccable butler. When the family is gone, art-lover and striving-artist Charles informs the chauffeur, George (Frank Jenks) that he is going to spend his own vacation there in the mansion, enjoying the paintings by Corot, Goya, Degas and others, and the Latimer's fine liqueurs, and George is going to drive him around town as he plays the gentleman.
Dining in style at the Club Bergerac, Charles meets Louise Bradford (Ella Raines)and her stuffy fiancée, Archer Ripley (Richard Gaines.)Charles knows nothing about Louise, other than she carries a revolver in her purse, but is anxious to see her again. He arranges to be near her at the opera, where she is with her father (Samuel S. Hinds) and sister Cynthia (Pat Alphin.) Much to Louise's distress, Cynthia leaves the opera with Nate Romano (Donald Curtis), a gambler associated with Larry Lundie (William Bendix), a swank gambling house owner.
Later, Charles offers to accompany Louise when she goes to confront Romano about Cynthia's involvement with the gamblers. There, they learn that Lundie is quite willing to order hireling Romano to quit shadowing Cynthia...just as soon as she pays her gambling debt of $103,000. Charles, still posing as a wealthy young man-about-town, is maneuvered into writing a check to satisfy Lundie, as Louise promises to have her father reimburse Charles the next morning.
Later that night, Lundie drops in on Charles at the Latimer residence and explains that he is just satisfying himself that Charles is the type of man who can write a "good" check for the sum of $103,000 but, in the event he might not be, Lundie departs with three of Latimer's valuable paintings as collateral.
Then Louise informs Charles that it will take her father several weeks to raise the money. He then has to explain to her that he is just an artist working as a butler, which does not set well with her. Lundie shows up again with the news that his art expert says the three paintings he took for collateral are worth only $85,000 and he is there to take some more to make up the difference.
During the discussion, the Latimers arrive home ahead of schedule. At this point, Duryea is more like Dagwood Bumstead in a Columbia "Blondie" film but there is no "Blondie" to bail him out, and this Duryea character isn't packing any heat, and wouldn't know what to do with it if he was.
None needed, thanks to a rather good surprise ending.
Nobody gets killed...nobody gets shot...nobody gets beat up...
Butler Dan Duryea (Charles) decides to lord it up while his master's
family take a holiday to Florida. The chauffeur Frank Jenks (George)
agrees to drive Duryea around during this time and the scene is set for
misunderstandings aplenty as Duryea goes out on the town in pursuit of
wealthy socialite Ella Raines (Louise). However, his little prank takes
a serious turn when he becomes mixed up with gambling house owner
William Bendix (Lundie).
This film has an easy-to-watch cast that lead us through the proceedings. Jenks, Raines and Bendix provide most of the comedy which is enjoyable in the manner that it is delivered. No screaming, no tedious slapstick, just entertaining dialogue delivery.
The story has an interesting plot and while the ending is predictable, it doesn't matter. A fun film that may leave you in the mood to be a little less assertive.
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