I Love Trouble (1948)
Produced and directed by S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay by Roy Huggins, based on his novel The Double Take
Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.
Edited by Al Clark
Music by George Duning
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
(1:33) Amazon Prime
Franchot Tone sure does love trouble… His character Stuart Bailey gets beat up at least four times in the film, which probably served as a pretty good warm-up for his fight with fellow actor Tom Neal over Barbara Payton a few years later.
But I digress. We’ve got a movie to talk about here…
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m slowly working my way through all the films in Michael F. Keaney’s Film Noir Guide: 745 Films of the Classic Era, 1940-1959. (Hey, it’s what I do.) At this point, I’ve seen most of the better-known stuff and am now scavenging among the B picture (and below) wreckage, searching for some glimmer of hidden treasure. And there’s more than a glimmer here with I Love Trouble.
Detective Stuart Bailey gets a call from big-shot politician Ralph Johnson (Tom Powers, a frequent noir character actor), who’s in a spot. Johnson is convinced his missing wife (Lynn Merrick) has an uncheckered past, but she keeps receiving blackmail letters. Bailey says he’ll track her down, no problem.
Big problem: While we encounter a convoluted plot, Bailey encounters so many characters (mostly women), it’s hard to keep ‘em straight. A few years ago, Johnson’s wife left her Portland home with a nightclub entertainer named Buster Buffin (Sid Tomack), later changing her name to Jane, then going by Janie, whose sister Norma (Janet Blair) tells Bailey that the woman in the photo he thinks is Jane/Janie/Johnson’s wife, isn’t. Norma ought to know: she’s her sister. Then it appears Johnson’s wife/Janie/Maybe-not-Janie made off with $40,000 from the club where she used to work for a guy named Keller (Steven Geray), who has a bouncer named Reno (John Ireland), who likes to take people - especially Bailey - on rides in his nifty elevator.
Even if you haven’t been drinking at this point, you’re bound to get confused, but it’s okay. Seriously. The dialogue is fast, the talk tough, and Tone walks around with a dopey swagger when he's not getting beaten up physically by just about every guy and verbally by all the women. In fact, Tone in this film sort of reminds me of Chevy Chase, but I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because they both have that same goofy crooked lip thing going on.
Aside from all that, I Love Trouble is a lot of fun, and promises to be even more fun if you’ve had a drink or two. The plot’s convoluted anyway, so why not?
So call up your friends and tell them to watch I Love Trouble. The film also co-stars Janis Carter, Adele Jergens, Glenda Farrell, Eduardo Ciannelli (whom I first saw in the noir TV show Johnny Staccato), and check out a young Raymond Burr in only his fourth credited film.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: The film is available on Amazon Prime, but the quality is so horrendous it must’ve been scanned from an old VHS tape that had been in somebody’s garage since the Carter administration. (It’s also on YouTube. I can’t vouch for the quality, but I don’t see how it could be any worse than what’s on Amazon.) This is a fun little noir that certainly deserves a restoration.
Back to the name Stuart Bailey: That character name would reappear in the TV series 77 Sunset Strip (played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), which was written by Roy Huggins, who also wrote the screenplay for I Love Trouble (his first) as well as The Double Take, the novel on which it was based. Huggins not only wrote, but also created 77 Sunset Strip and the TV shows Maverick, The Fugitive, Run For Your Life, and The Rockford Files (with Stephen J. Cannell). I’ve been eager to get my hands on this book about Huggins, not only to read about his creativity, but also to learn more about how Jack L. Warner screwed him out of his residuals, which led to what’s known as “The Huggins Contract.”
So check out I Love Trouble. Also, check out this review of the film from my friend Laura.
Photos: IMDb, PicClick, Finding Franchot, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings