TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME (1941) is an enjoyable charmer from 20th Century-Fox.
Cesar Romero stars as gangster Shep Morrison, who has quite a "reputation" but in reality wouldn't hurt a fly. Instead of "rubbing out" the competition he locks them up in a posh jail in his basement!
At Christmastime Shep falls for young Judy Miller (Virginia Gilmore), who works as a babysitter at a department store, and he immediately hires her as a nanny -- then must scramble to find an orphan (Stanley Clements) to be his "son."
Problems arise when rival gangster Pretty Willie Williams (Sheldon Leonard) wants Judy, who's become engaged to Shep, and things escalate further when there's a "jailbreak" at Shep's house.
This fast-paced 78-minute film is quite fun; in fact, it received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The story has a bit of a Damon Runyon flavor, but it also has some unique touches, such as Shep's "jail" or his very proper, gun-toting butler (Barnett Parker).
I've always liked Cesar Romero, and he's especially appealing in this one. It was interesting to learn that Fox remade the movie in 1950 as LOVE THAT BRUTE, starring Paul Douglas and Jean Peters -- with Romero playing the villain role!
Gilmore -- later Mrs. Yul Brynner -- looks and sounds quite a bit like Jane Greer, as I also noted in a review of THAT OTHER WOMAN (1942). According to IMDb, she does her own singing.
The film is buoyed by a terrific supporting cast, which also includes Milton Berle, Charlotte Greenwood, Frank Jenks, Anthony Caruso, Addison Richards, Mary Treen, Marion Martin, and Marc Lawrence.
TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME was directed by H. Bruce Humberstone. It was filmed in black and white by Ernest Palmer.
TALL, DARK AND HANDSOME is available on DVD in the Fox Cinema Archives line. I rented it from ClassicFlix. It's a fine print. There are no extras.