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My Favorite Brunette

USA 1947
produced by
Daniel Dare for Hope Enterprises/Paramount
directed by Elliott Nugent
starring Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney jr, John Hoyt, Charles Dingle, Reginald Denny, Frank Puglia, Ann Doran, Willard Robrtson, Jack La Rue, Charles Arnt, Alan Ladd, Boyd Davis, Jack Chefe, James Flavin, Bing Crosby (cameo), Helena Phillips Evans, Betty Farrington, Jean Wong, Roland Soo Hoo, Mike Donovan, Budd Fine, George Lloyd, Ray Teal, James Pierce
written by Jack Rose, Edmund Beloin, music by Robert Emmett Dolan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ronnie Jackson (Bob Hope) is a peaceful baby photographer who would like nothing rather than become a hardboiled detective, just like his next-door neighbour Sam McCloud (Alan Ladd) - and when McCloud leaves town for a few days and asks Ronnie to handle his phone, Ronnie jumps the opportunity and poses as McCloud - and before you know it, a beautiful lady, Carlotta Montay (Dorothy Lamour) is in his office and asks him to find her uncle Baron Stefan Montay (Frank Puglia) who she claims has been abducted - and sh gives him a map he is to guard with his life ...

However, when Ronnie later that evening stops by the Montay residence, he is convinced by the Montays' family friend Simon Montague (Charles Tingle), the family doctor Lundau (John Hoyt) and kindeed Baron Stefan himself that the Baron is not at all missing but Carlotta is suffering from schizophrenia. For some reason though, the Baron is hidden away from Carlotta, which makes Ronnie a little suspicious, everybody seems to want to get their hands on Carlotta's map despite her schizophrenia, which makes Ronnie more suspicious, and then he happens to take a picture of wheelchairbound Baron Stefan walking about like he has never even seen a wheelchair - which makes Ronnie most suspicious ... especially when Montague's trusting henchman Kismet (Peter Lorre) starts throwing knives at him ... and all of a sudden, Ronnie doesn't believe Carlotta is schizophrenic anymore.

Ronnie's investigations soon get him and Carlotta admitted to a nuthouse, drawn into an international espionage affair that involves a phony Baron Stefan Montay, and Ronnie becoming the prime suspect of a murder he did not commit, which starts a nationwide manhunt.

Ultimately, Ronnie and Carlotta manage to trick all the baddies into making a confession on record, but unfortunately Kismet is sneaky enough to exchange records and when the police arrivs, the record is long gone, and Ronnie is arrested for the murder after all, tried and sentenced to death while Carlotta has made a smooth getaway.

Finally, Ronnie is saved from the gas chamber only minutes before the execution when Carlotta has finally gathered enough evidence to have him set free, including the photo of the phony Baron Stefan walking about, and somehow, baby photographer Ronnie Jackson has saved the nation.

 

Bob Hope's frequent partner Bing Crosby has a small cameo as Hope's would-be executioner, Lon Chaney jr has an amusing role as one of Montague's henchmen who cracks walnuts in his elbow. Basically, he repeats his performance of Lenny in Of Mice and Men from 8 years earlier.

 

Often amusing if not always terribly on-point film noir parody that manages to perfectly mimick film noir in atmosphere, but somehow the story doesn't always quite match up, a few times too often going for the obvious joke rather than subtle allusions. And Bob Hope, who is basically his usual comic self, is not quite perfect as a parody of the hardboiled detective.

All that said though, My Favorite Brunette still packs plenty of laughs and features some delightfully amusing supporting performances by among others Lon Chaney jr, Peter Lorre and even Alan Ladd, and should be seen by all film noir fans.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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