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A nice little item from 1950, the movie tells the tale of a good girl who
does some bad things who gets involved with a bad guy quite capable of
good things. The plot is nicely developed for a Republic B, and the lead
actors, Gerald Mohr and Dorothy Patrick, are surprisingly effective. Mohr
particularly good in the sort of Bogart role he could obviously handle
well but was scarcely ever permitted to do. For once he is well
The film has at times deeper emotional qualities than its makers perhaps realized at the time. For all the plot machinations one comes to care a good deal for the two major characters. As their story unfolds their romance is so credible that the movie seems to have gone from being a crime picture to a romance. Most crime films have some romantic interludes in them, but The Blonde Bandit is so carried away by them that it becomes, for a while, another kind of movie altogether. When it reverts, in the end, to its generic form, one is almost as heartbroken as the fictional characters over what has become of them.
because the only thing the "Blonde Bandit" steals is the heart of a
gangster. Dorothy Patrick plays Gloria Dell, a girl who comes to the
big city from Kansas to be married to a guy she's never met before, but
has been corresponding with for quite some time. He never shows up at
the train depot, so she heads off to his return address on his letters,
armed with a photo. She gets there and discovers the guy is a con
artist who has been marrying and bilking women for quite some time.
Fortunately, he was picked up by the cops that morning. Not so
fortunately, she doesn't have the money for a return ticket home. The
owner of the bar, Joe Sapelli (Gerald Mohr), tells her about a jeweler
who will buy her ring from her and thus she can get the return money
home. What she doesn't know is that the jeweler owes a big gambling
debt to Sapelli, and after the transaction he claims the jewelry store
was robbed by Gloria, hoping for an insurance pay-off that will cover
his gambling debt.
The police pick up Gloria and jail her, not buying her story. Who comes to her aid? The gambling mastermind Sapelli who gets her out on bail and gives her his own attorney, believing her story and feeling partially responsible for sending her to the jeweler in the first place. He also gives her a job as his assistant while she is awaiting trial and the two begin to fall for each other. It turns out Sapelli is not such a bad guy - he has old fashioned notions about marriage, loves his mother, and just seems to be providing a service - gambling - that people would do anyways.
The whole thing made me wonder - Where was head censor Joe Breen when this script crossed the censors' desk? It pretty much busts the production code wide open - not in a sexual way, but in the way criminals and law enforcement were portrayed during the code. Here Sapelli is practically Sir Lancelot in his nobility in sacrificing for Gloria. It is law enforcement that you want to hiss at because they are determined to get Sapelli, even though he is kingpin of a victimless crime and seems to treat his employees - the bookies - quite well. The bookies even get bonuses if they get picked up by the police while in the service of Sapelli.
In contrast, D.A. James Deveron is completely unconcerned with Gloria's guilt or innocence. He just seems to be happy to have someone who is up against it (Gloria) and in Sapelli's good graces whom he can strong-arm into ratting Sapelli out so he can get a case against him. He doesn't seem to care about what might happen to Gloria if she was found out, and Deveron threatens her with the news of her arrest getting back home to Kansas where her sister is about to marry into a prominent family. Like Oz's Tin Man, Deveron really needs to wish for a heart.
I highly recommend this little B film with B players who all acquit themselves marvelously in a rather complex little crime drama that will keep you guessing up to the end. It's an interesting little code buster that hits all of the right notes.
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