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Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas At Their Funniest
reader45 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie masquerades as a murder mystery, but is actually a Battle of the Sexes screwball comedy of the first water.

Bill Reardon has been pressured by his unrelenting wife, Sally, to quit his job as a detective for the District Attorney's office and open his own private detective agency. After several months, he has no clients, and is broke. He finally admits defeat and goes back to working for the DA, intending to close the office the next day, and leaving his wife to manage it. At the last minute, though, a client, Mrs. Fraser, comes into the detective agency. Desperate for income, Sally masquerades as "Operative 7" and convinces Mrs. Fraser to give her the case.

The rest of the movie is the rivalry between Sally and Bill, each trying to top the other at solving the same case. The inexperienced Sally's methods are extremely unorthodox, to say the least, and usually end up backfiring on her as they lead her at full tilt on a merry chase through a web of gambling, blackmail and murder. Bill's methods are more traditional, and he has all the horsepower of the local police department at his disposal, but somehow he always ends up, involuntarily and much to his chagrin, following a trail that Sally has blazed earlier.

There is a sequel to this film, "There's That Woman Again," this time with Virginia Bruce in the part of Sally.

Who could imagine any more urbane, sophisticated man of the world than Melvyn Douglas in "Ninotchka?" Here, as Bill Reardon, he is just as handsome, but ends up coming off as somewhat of a boob, rather easily manipulated by his wife's scheming machinations, and constantly at the end of his rope over them. This shows off his talent for comedy even better than his role in "Ninotchka" can.

Bumbling foil or not, he does end up being the one to solve the crime in the end, though.

Mary Astor is quite watchable as Mrs. Fraser, playing a hard-edged role of the type she is so good in, chilly and mysterious, but with aspects of a vulnerable victim at the same time.

Joan Blondell somehow manages to play the screwball heroine, Sally Reardon, without any of the cloying suffocation of Ida Lupino in "Lone Wolf Spy Hunt" or the stark frightfulness and outright psychosis of Katharine Hepburn in "Bringing Up Baby." I could never understand what any man would see in either of the latter two. I would run as far as I could, as fast as I could, in the opposite direction from both of them. But Blondell retains an allure and a lovableness throughout all her antics, in spite of her headstrong, independent, disruptive ways. It is pretty easy to understand why Bill puts up with everything he does from her, and still wants her back after each debacle.

When Joan Blondell is funny, she is really quite excellent at it. And this is the best I've seen of her, rivaling "Topper Returns," or perhaps even outdoing her performance there. (Although admittedly I have only seen a fraction of the 59 movies she made in the 1930s -- an average of 6 movies a year!) She is clearly the centerpiece of this comedy, and handles it masterfully, never dropping the ball, and leading the viewer around by the nose just as easily and continuously as she does her husband.

But the real incandescence of this film is the unexpected zingers that are delivered, usually off-hand, and usually as the wrap-up of a scene. They are always unexpected, very clever, and made me laugh out loud on many more than a couple of occasions. Watch closely for them all, as they are easy to miss. They are every bit as witty as anything in any of the Thin Man or Boston Blackie movies.

A very funny movie.

(One warning: those who are sensitive to any allusion to spousal physical abuse, however playful, will not enjoy this movie.)
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The wife of a detective takes a case of her own
blanche-25 December 2009
Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas are Bill and Sally Reardon in "There's Always a Woman," a 1938 screwball comedy. Douglas is a former detective with the D.A.'s office who has opened his own office. However, there are no clients after a few months, so he returns to the D.A. Sally, his wife, is supposed to close the office, but when a Mrs. Fraser (Mary Astor) enters, Sally passes herself as a detective and gets the case - plus a retainer. It then becomes a competition between husband and wife to see which one will solve the case, which becomes more complicated, involving murder and blackmail.

It's hard not to love Joan Blondell is just about anything, and she's excellent in this. She and Douglas make a good team, though in the sequel, it's Virginia Bruce who steps into her role.

The script is witty, and the acting is excellent from all involved. This is no "Thin Man" - there were a few of these husband-wife detective movies that came out after the success of "The Thin Man" - in fact, one try at a series featuring Joel Sloane, a rare book dealer, and his wife, Garda, starred Melvyn Douglas in 1938. None quite measured up, but often these films were entertaining. "There's Always a Woman" is definitely a good one.
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Breezy screwball comedy/mystery should delight Blondell/Douglas fans...
Doylenf3 May 2007
Despite thin comedy material, JOAN BLONDELL and MELVYN DOUGLAS give their all to the interplay between the detective husband and snoopy wife routine in this fast-moving comedy/mystery. Douglas is a detective badly in need of clients when MARY ASTOR pops into his office while he's away and tells her story to Blondell about keeping tabs on an unfaithful husband.

MARY ASTOR, JEROME COWAN and ROBERT PAIGE are the chief suspects when the man is killed, but the accent throughout is on comedy rather than solution of the crime. What matters is that the comedy is breezy and stylish in the Blondell/Douglas manner with both of them at the top of their form. Revelaton of the murderer comes as no big surprise.

Trivia note: RITA HAYWORTH has a fleeting moment as a secretary, unbilled in the credits. Blink and you may miss her one line and quick exit.
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Sort of like a Thin Man movie where Nick and Nora work against each other throughout the film.
MartinHafer1 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is an enjoyable kooky whodunnit comedy--the sort that were popular in the 1930s and 40s. In many ways, Joan Blondell and Melvin Douglas play characters like Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man series--except that instead of working together, they work against each other through much of the film.

The film begins with Douglas owning his own detective agency. However, he has no clients and is forced to go back to his old job as an investigator for the District Attorney's office. However, when his wife (Blondell) is alone in the soon to be vacated detective office, a perspective client enters--and she decides to take the case herself. After all, she thinks, if she can solve the case then maybe the agency could succeed--and make Douglas happy because he would rather be a private detective.

In a funny scene, the couple goes out for a night on the town. Douglas does not know that his wife is working a case and she spends the evening keeping an eye on a suspect for her client. The problem is that the next day, the client's husband is found dead and Blondell investigates it for her client while Douglas also investigates it for the D.A.--and he STILL doesn't know she's involved. In fact, many times she uses her inside track to trying to solve the crime. When Douglas finally wises up to what's going on, the sparks really fly.

What I particularly liked about the film is that while Blondell is sometimes very clever, other times she's a total moron. Too often in these sort of films, the wife is too smart and too competent. Here, however, both Douglas and Blondell have their strengths and deficits. I also loved the great dialog between them--it's very well written and funny. In particular, however, since they are supposed to be married, Douglas is NOT the most gentlemanly guy--often tossing his wife around and even having her arrested.

Overall, while the mystery isn't that mysterious, the characters and acting are very good--making this an enjoyable little romp--and nearly earning an 8 (this was a close one).
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Delightful mystery-comedy vehicle for Blondell, Douglas!
canuckteach3 May 2007
Caught this today on TCM - lots of fun. characters and snappy dialog borrow heavily from the 'Thin Man' series, only husband Douglas works as a lawman, and wife Joan is the wannabee 'private eye' (with all the right hunches). Blondell is very charming and lovably wacky, but proves that blonds CAN compete in the 1930's (Hollywood) world of sleuthing. Hilarious results come from Douglas attempting to keep wifey under wraps in latter portions of film while he tries 'to break the case wide open'.

Also, earlier, the couple return home from a romantic night out, but Joan's great expectations for intimacy appear to get dashed (---: witty scene, but tastefully portrayed ..

8 / 10
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There's Always A Woman-Front and Behind ***1/2
edwagreen11 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The picture is a very good one thanks to the excellent chemistry between Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas here.

Mary Astor is in fine form and the sophisticated woman, soon widowed, who has plenty to hide. She has got quite an agenda for herself in this film.

The film also succeeds quite well due to the screwball antics of Blondell. She is absolutely wonderful here and it's too bad that there weren't more Blondell-Douglas films as man and wife attempting to solve murder mysteries. They were certainly great competition for the Myrna Loy-William Powell "Thin Man" series.

Again, Blondell shines. That sparkle in her eye proves over and over again what she is up to in pursuing another clue. The film really took off when the husband and wife team are on opposite sides of a murder mystery.
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whodunnit ... thin man bickering
ksf-24 May 2007
There's Always a Woman stars Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas as husband and wife, trying to solve a case, much like Myrna Loy and William Powell in the Thin Man series, with "Always a Woman" coming several years after Thin Man. William Reardon (Douglas) is deciding if he wants to stay in the private eye business, when wife Sally (Blondell) comes along and interferes in all his business. This one is a little more edgey and biting than the Thin Man; here, they have it out, and it's not alway quite the same gentle, kidding tone that Thin Man has. I wondered if this film had been written by the same team as Thin Man, but it appears it was completely different writers. Viewers will recognize Mary Astor who started in silent films, and made many films, including several with Bogart (Maltese Falcon, Across the Pacific). Blondell will probably be most well known for Three on a match and Desk Set. Interesting that both of Melvyn Douglas' Oscars were for Best Supporting Roles, much later in his career.
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It's not the THIN MAN, but it is...
mkilmer17 May 2007
My wife tells me that she liked THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN as much as THE THIN MAN (and its progeny). I don't put them in the same league – and chances are, you won't either – but my wife tells me that she liked that the woman (Joan Blondell) was the detective and the smart one. (The "smart" part can be debated, as it is not constant, but this film was made in the 1930s.) The cast was very good, but there is no William Powell. I don't care how many awards he won, Melvyn Douglas is no William Powell. And neither is Joan. (There is no Myrna Loy/subordinate wife character, which takes us back to why my wife liked this so.) If you are reading this review, chances are you'll like this film. It has the charm we can always find in comedies of this period, and Joan is wonderful as always. (And for THIN MAN fans, there is a period of suitable drinking.)
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Blondell Does Sherlock
dougdoepke22 March 2014
Comparisons with the Thin Man are inevitable. But if Bill Reardon (Douglas) can be taken as Nick Charles' slick, well-composed brother, Sally Reardon (Blondell) can only be taken as Nora Charles' rowdy, very distant cousin. It's Blondell as Blondell, sassy, madcap, and irresistible. Still, how funny you find her many pratfalls may depend on comedic taste. The humor here is much broader than the dry, sarcastic wit of Powell and Loy. Also, unlike the Charles's who work as a team, the Reardons often work at head-butting cross-purposes, even if they do get results.

Here Sally goes to work for mystery woman Lola Fraser (Astor), and ends up involved in a murder. Bill ends up working the same case but as a police detective. Seems as though he'll have to arrest Sally if she doesn't change her headstrong ways—fat chance. As a whodunit, the movie only partially succeeds since screen time is mainly taken up with Sally's shenanigans. Still, things do move along briskly, while Blondell maintains the energy level. No, they're not the understated Nick and Nora, but the movie's generally entertaining enough.
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Enjoyable, if slightly overlong
gridoon201919 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've read that one of the most "scandalous" films that led to the creation of the infamous Production Code was the (now lost) "Convention City" from 1933, which co-starred, among many others, Joan Blondell and Mary Astor. Five years later, Blondell and Astor crossed paths again in "There's Always A Woman"; with the Code now in full force, Blondell is mostly covered up throughout the movie. Nonetheless, with her huge, cartoon-like eyes, her beautiful face, her nice voice, her constant energy, you still can't take your eyes off her. In one word, she is delightful. Her co-star, Melvyn Douglas, mostly has to play the "straight man" and react to her zaniness with a mix of frustration, anger and affection, but he does it well. The film has some hilarious moments (watch what happens when Blondell gets overzealous trying to listen into a conversation), but the mystery is not exactly phenomenal (though it isn't bad either), and it does drag at times in the second half; movies of this type usually benefit from a shorter running time than a full 80 minutes. **1/2 out of 4.
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All's fair in love and rival careers.
mark.waltz2 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Ten points for wit and performances, five points for originality. Struggling private detective Melvyn Douglas takes a job with the D.A.'s office, leaving his ambitious wife Joan Blondell behind to take messages. Determined to find some excitement, Blondell agrees to take on a case, trailing a young woman (Frances Drake) for wealthy Mary Astor. Witnessing an argument between Astor's husband and Drake's fiancé at a posh nightclub Blondell and Douglas are too hungover to hear that Astor's husband was murdered. Unaware that his wife has taken on a private investigation of the case, Douglas finds her undermining him at every turn, drizzling him as she finds valuable evidence which may lead to a murderer.

Not attempting to imitate William Powell and Myrna Loy, this is still one of a dozen or more rip-offs. Blondell is crass and sometimes obnoxious, but that is on a very lovable scale. Douglas isn't as dapper as Powell, but he manages to be smooth, if not as urbane. Thurston Hall is funny as Douglas's boss, while Astor has a hint of her future "Maltese Falcon" vixen in her. Cross examination scenes at the D.A.'s office are filled with hysterically funny yet annoying sound effects. The mystery is really easy to solve, but there is a lot of fun on the road to getting there.
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This is not what I would call Entertaining
nutinpersonal8 September 2009
This movie was supposed to be the first of a series of movies with JOAN BLONDELL and MELVYN DOUGLAS playing the same man and wife parts, but BLONDELL opted out and another actress took her place. It isn't any mystery to me why she opted out. I found the husband part played by DOUGLAS to be rude, I could actually say in parts he behaved like a pig. I don't know. Perhaps men treated their wives in a different manner way back then that was condoned by the general public, but I was shocked. I mean, I know they probably wanted a different tack then the Nick & Nora approach (William Powell & Myrna Loy), but this just didn't work for me. I've always really, really enjoyed all of the roles Melvyn Douglas played. He's always seemed to play a "frisky" sort of fellow, but always a gentleman. In Mr. Blanding Dream House you actually wished he was your friend, too. But I had a different feeling towards him after watching this movie. It's any wonder BLONDELL didn't want to resurrect the role again.
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