Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lady Sleuths of the Silver Screen--Torchy Blane

Torchy Blane!
Don't you love the name?!
Torchy Blane!
You don't know whether it's a new lamp for camping or a great blues singer out of New Orleans!
Torchy Blane was a character in a series of nine movies that Warners Studio made in the late thirties about a nosy reporter who was played by Glenda Farrell.
Farrell is perhaps best known today as the nosy reporter in "Mystery of the Wax Museum" that starred Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray.
Glenda Farrell's character in "Mystery . . ." was Florence Dempsey, straight out of the hard-boiled school of wise-cracking females of the time. Farrell is ironically better served in this 1933 movie because she's not only playing a woman working in a man's world . . . she's successful at it.
Plus Florence Dempsey comes across as a stronger character than Torchy Blane when Dempsey simply decides she wants to get married at the end of the movie.
Blane goes through nine movies alternating between whining, cajoling and arguing with her detective boyfriend about getting married like she's schizophrenic and torn between her job and marriage.
You don't know who to hit upside the head-or more often--Torchy Blane or her fiance, Steve MacBride, for putting up with her!
The plots of the pictures range from Torchy trying to solve a murder set against a nightclub atmosphere ("Smart Blonde" with Jane Wyman in a bit part) to prison life ("Torchy Plays with Dynamite" with Jane Wyman now playing Torchy Blane).
They even have Lola Lane as "Torchy Blane in Panama" as the next to last entry before ". . . Dynamite."
All the movies are well-done with Warner's usual quality maintained throughout, even when it gets a mite far-fetched~~[SPOILER]~~like when the good guys show up in a submarine at the end of "Torchy Blane in Chinatown."
Miss Maven is still giggling at how they got from Chinese burial tablets to Navy Subs!!
[Note to Charlie Chan fans: This movie has Victor Sen Yung (Jimmy Chan) in a bit part as a Chinese entertainer.
Maybe that will make the Politically Correct Asian-American group happy that he was so beautifully typecast!]
Miss Maven rates the Torchy Blane series as at least a mustsee.
You're bound to want at least some of them for your own video library, if for no other reason than you can take out your frustrations by throwing popcorn, etc., at Torchy when she gets whiny about getting marriage!
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