Sunday, May 12, 2013

Invitation to “Trouble”

Several years ago on this page, I reviewed the 1946 novel The Double Take, written by Roy Huggins. He, of course, would go on to become a popular TV series creator and producer, responsible for such shows as 77 Sunset Strip, The Rockford Files, and City of Angels. And The Double Take would have an extended life of its own, becoming the source material for episodes of several of Huggins’ shows.

Apparently the earliest adaptation of that novel, though, was as the 1948 big-screen picture I Love Trouble, starring Franchot Tone--an American actor, despite his name--as Los Angeles private eye Stuart Bailey (the same character Huggins later employed in 77 Sunset Strip). Huggins composed the script for Columbia Pictures, an effort that introduced him into the Hollywood movie industry.

In his review for the Web site Film Noir, Tony D’Ambra writes:
This is one helluva movie. A gem that sparkles like the eyes of the hot dames that swagger, pout, smolder, and snap their high heels across the screen. A joyous L.A. romp in Marlowe territory which has it all. ...

There are laughs and smooth-as-nylons repartee, but the melodrama is hard-hitting and typically noir: guys get slapped hard, drugged, and slugged from behind. In one scene the face of a murder victim under a Malibu pier is highlighted by torch-light at night. A particularly impressive scene is where a guy is under the threat of a gun, which is shown from the holder’s viewpoint, as it moves with the frightened target as he staggers backward and across the screen in a small room.
At the time I wrote about The Double Take, I’d not had the opportunity to see I Love Trouble. A print of it has been shown at noir-oriented film festivals, and it has undoubtedly appeared at some point on late-night television. But it isn’t available on DVD.

So I was delighted to find all 94 minutes of I Love Trouble on YouTube yesterday. It is an imperfect print, too dark in places, and the story might seem confusing at first; however, I think old-movie fans will get a kick out this early effort from a man who would become an important figure in the evolution of small-screen P.I. dramas.

Click here to watch the whole thing.

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