6.5/10
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13 user 8 critic

Two Smart People (1946)

Director Jules Dassin (Night and the City) combines the best of film noir, crime caper and romance in this little gem starring Lucille Ball, John Hodiak and Lloyd Nolan.

Director:

Jules Dassin

Writers:

Ethel Hill (screenplay), Leslie Charteris (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lucille Ball ... Ricki Woodner
John Hodiak ... Ace Connors
Lloyd Nolan ... Bob Simms
Hugo Haas ... Señor Rodriquez
Lenore Ulric ... Señora Maria Ynez
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Fly Feletti
Lloyd Corrigan ... Dwight Chandwick
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Jacques Dufour
David Cota David Cota ... José
Clarence Muse ... Porter
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Storyline

Criminal Ace Connors agrees to return to New York and stand trial for stealing $500,000 worth of bonds so he can serve a light five-year sentence and enjoy his loot (safely stowed away in the cover of a cook book) when he gets out. Detective Bob Simms is tasked with escorting Connors back to New York. With five days for the cross-country trip, Connors plans for stops in Texas and New Orleans to have a few final days of fun before he goes to prison. Ricki Woodner, a con artist who met Connors at his hotel, is persuaded by Fly Feletti (a bitter colleague of Connors) to get close to Connors and take the bonds. She joins Connors and Simms on the train and Ricki and Ace start falling for each other. Feletti wants the bonds and keeps an eye on Ricki to make sure she doesn't double-cross him. After a romantic detour into Mexico, Ace, Ricki, and Simms head to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras celebration, with Feletti close behind. Written by Jimmy L.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | French | Latin

Release Date:

4 June 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Time for Two See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film failed at the box office, resulting in a loss to MGM of $252,000 ($3.5M in 2018) according to studio records. See more »

Goofs

When Ricki, Ace, and Bob walk into the little shop that rents them their costumes for Mardi Gras, they walk past an hourglass (that happens to be the same hourglass used in "The Wizard of Oz"). Although there was no one else in the room, and the proprietor came downstairs apologizing that he had been upstairs watching the Mardi Gras, the sand in the hourglass is all in the top half. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Forecast (1945) See more »

Soundtracks

Dangerous (Peligrosa)
Written by Ralph Blane and George Bassman
Performed by David Cota (uncredited)
[José sings the Spanish language song while Maria, Ricki, Ace and Bob are having dinner together]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lucille Ball in the lead, Karl Freund behind the camera, and directed by Dessin!
8 September 2013 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Two Smart People (1946)

An odd, charming, crime romance with a series of great locales and a real sense of love triumphs over everything. You might expect this from MGM somehow--it lacks the intensity we think of with Warner Bros. crime flicks--but it has more warmth and aura that critics give it credit for. And when it gets to the crazy Mardi Gras scenes, it's really pretty fun.

The star here is Lucille Ball. Yes, the comic queen of the 1950s in a dramatic role, and she's convincing, despite the fact that she was unhappy to be in the film (she knew it was her last with MGM). Ball actually made a lot of films before television took her to the top, and she's always really good if never quite sizzling or memorable. She (and everyone) blames the weak script for her lackluster appearance here, but I thought the whole mood of the movie took on its own life and it worked well. The cinematography is led by legendary Karl Freund who later filmed 149 "I Love Lucy" episodes and who had already shot classic movies like "Metropolis," "Dracula," and would later do "Key Largo."

Across from Ball in the romantic male lead is John Hodiak, who tries to light up the screen but seems to be slightly trying, as if he knows the kind of charming con man he is meant to be and can't quite "become" it. Still, he's likable, and his chemistry with Ball isn't bad. A third lead has to be mentioned, Lloyd Nolan, because he's the laid back cop who is the most at ease in the film, and who is used to bounce the romance off of.

It's true, the script, both the dialog and plot, are routine stuff. But don't let that worry you. The ploy of the stolen bonds hidden in the book (seen in the first scene) is a little overdone as it goes (with a small twist in the final minutes), but it's really just a way to keep a slight suspense going. As the two leads fall for each other in the most impossible circumstance, there is the feeling that maybe the bonds are really the goal, and not true love. Great character actor Elisha Cook Jr. is creeping around in the background, waiting for the money to turn up.

Like many post-war films, the filming here is intensely moody, sharp, and filled with moving camera. It's a pleasure just to watch. Director Jules Dassin has several truly great films to his credit, and this one is usually brushed off as a failure of sorts, but I wouldn't do that. I enjoyed every minute. Even when there were cracks in the plot, I still wanted to be there, to go along for the ride. And that's good enough!


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