“He’s the head of the voters’ league.”
“He’s the biggest crook in the state.”
“I hear he feeds a thousand people a week.”
|A new type of ploy|
Paul is against Senator Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen from Hitchcock’s Notorious, and the Father of the Bride movies) and his Reform Party: “If Ralph Henry’s so anxious to reform somebody, why don’t he start on that son of his? He gets in more jams than The Dead End Kids.” A beautiful, petite blonde has been listening. She greets Paul with a resounding slap in the face (pretty impressive, considering she’s wearing gloves! I’ll admit I didn’t think about that until Vinnie pointed it out — that’s how quickly I got into the story). “That’s for talking about decent people,” she snaps. “A little reform wouldn’t do you any harm. As a matter of fact, I think it would do the state good if someone would reform you. Get out of my way, you cheap crook!” Since TGK is a 1942 crime drama and not real life here in 2012, where people sue each other at the drop of a hat (and what charming chapeaux the gals in TGK were wearing that season!), Paul is immediately smitten as he watches the feisty lass storming out. “Hey, what a slugger,” he says, grinning as he rubs his aching jaw and finds out he’s been slapped by Senator Henry’s elegant patrician daughter Janet (Lake). Paul can hardly wait to break the news to his right-hand man and close friend, Ed Beaumont (Ladd): “I just met the swellest dame...she smacked me in the kisser!” Although TGK is set in the early 1940s, I’m hearing a song from another era in my head: “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” On the one hand, I get a kick out of the rollicking way Paul cheerfully bulldozes his way through life, but on the other hand, he’s also an impulsive, hot-headed guy who all too often acts before he thinks. Ed’s usually good at keeping Paul from letting those impulses backfire on him.
|Finding Taylor dead in the street curbs Ed’s enthusiasm!|
|Poor "Snip" fought forlorn, and forlorn won.|
|Tough politicians need good dental hygiene!|
|Nurse Frances Gifford likes Ladd's bedside manner!|
After a spat with Paul, Ed throws in with Nick Varna—or does he? Turns out Ed’s still on Team Paul, gathering evidence, but what a way to make his point! Poor Ed is attacked by a German Shepherd, and Jeff and Rusty hold Ed captive in a marathon beating, mostly from Jeff, who dubs our hero “Little Rubber Ball.” That scene always has me on the edge of my seat; it almost makes the classic slugfest in Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) look like kids playing in a sandbox! Wally Westmore’s makeup effects for the savage beating William Bendix gives Alan Ladd looked convincing enough to make me wince! Heck, it seems like everyone was slaphappy on the Glass Key set at one time or another. Ironically, bad-guy Bendix was a sweetheart in real life, at least with co-stars Ladd and Lake. According to Jeremy Arnold on the TCM Web site, “During the film’s memorable beating scene, Bendix accidentally slugged Ladd in the jaw for real, knocking him out. (The take survives in the finished film.) Bendix felt awful and he burst into tears. When Ladd woke up, he was so touched by Bendix’s reaction that he became friends with the actor and requested him for many of his future films, helping him with his career as best he could.” Lake hit it off with Bendix, too, becoming close friends. “I came to adore the guy,” Lake wrote in her autobiography. “It was a platonic adoration for a marvelous human being.” Then there was another real-life beating on the set, this one during TGK’s opening scene, where Janet Henry had to sock Paul Madvig in the jaw. Lake and Donlevy had previously worked together in I Wanted Wings (1941), and the experience didn’t exactly make them the best of pals, so when Lake did that scene, she actually slugged the guy! She wrote, “I’d learned in my Brooklyn youth to lead with the hip when you throw a punch…Every pound I owned was behind it when it caught his jaw.” When the irate Donlevy confronted her, Lake admitted she didn’t know how to pull her punches.” I’ll give you until the next take to learn,” he said and walked away.
|It's raining diminutive detectives!|
Might as well stay for dinner!
|You'd think Nancy Drew could solve this case!|
|William Bendix is the spitting image of evil!|
Before Veronica Lake (born Constance Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York; I love it when my fellow native New Yorkers make good!) became a star as “The Peek-A-Boo” girl, thanks to her long blonde mane and her memorable performances in Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels (1941), as well as This Gun for Hire, TGK, and I Married a Witch (all in 1942), she had bit parts in the late 1930s and early 1940s in films like Sorority House. For the record, my 1995 edition of Halliwell’s Film Guide describes the 1942 movie adaptation of TGK thus: “Nifty remake of the (1935 version) which finds some limited talents in their best form, helped by a plot which keeps one watching.” I agree; to paraphrase our own John Greco of Twenty-Four Frames, nobody could play Alan Ladd like Alan Ladd! Similarly, when Paramount teamed up Ladd with sultry, flaxen-haired, 4-feet-11½-inch tall Veronica Lake, who happened to be pretty darn good at playing Veronica Lake (and looking gorgeous in Edith Head’s costumes), it was the blond leading the blonde, and a new movie star team was born! According to the IMDb, Ladd and Lake made seven movies together: in addition to the films we've already discussed here, Ladd and Lake also appeared together in Star-Spangled Rhythm; 1945’s Duffy’s Tavern and Variety Girl, in which Ladd and Lake played themselves; The Blue Dahlia (1946); and Saigon (1948).
|"Bear with me, Ed, all this|
intrigue has me easily distracted!"
|When you work for Paul Madvig, bring water wings!|
|Having a dish like Janet at his bedside would perk up any guy!|
|Hold onto your hats: Janet and Ed are playing for keeps!|
(Cheer up, Paul, a big politician like you won't have trouble finding a new babe!)