Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tonight's Movie: There's Always a Woman (1938)

Bill Riordan (Melvyn Douglas) decides to close his struggling detective agency and return to a steady paycheck as a special investigator for the district attorney. Unbeknownst to Bill, when his wife Sally (Joan Blondell) is clearing out the agency's office she lands a client who offers enough cash to pay their back rent. Bill and Sally ultimately end up competing with one another to solve a murder mystery in THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN.

THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN falls in the amusing-though-not great category. It's worth watching, though have I found other husband-wife mysteries, such as GRAND CENTRAL MURDER and DANGEROUS BLONDES, more entertaining. I particularly enjoyed Melvyn Douglas, but I found myself wishing that his relationship with Sally was less annoyed and confrontational and a little more romantic. Similarly, Sally was fun -- particularly when she drives her police interrogators batty -- but I wished she were a little less ditzy and a little more of a partner to her husband.

The excellent supporting cast includes Mary Astor as the client, Jerome Cowan as a local gambling tycoon, and Thurston Hall as Bill's boss, the district attorney. There was a striking secretary seen from a distance in one scene, and it turns out it was Rita Hayworth!

This movie was filmed in black and white and runs 81-82 minutes.

THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN was directed by Alexander Hall, whose best-known films include HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) and MY SISTER EILEEN (1942). He also directed BEDTIME STORY, reviewed here a few months back.

In 1939 Hall directed Melvyn Douglas in a sequel to THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN, which was called THERE'S THAT WOMAN AGAIN. Virginia Bruce replaced Joan Blondell as Sally Riordan. Tom Dugan repeated his role as Detective Flannigan. Hopefully the sequel will turn up on TCM.

THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN has not been released on VHS or DVD. It can be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies.

February 2013 Update: This movie is now available on DVD-R in the Sony Choice Collection.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

Haven't seen the ones you mention but I think the Thin Man movies are tops in the husband-wife mystery department.

4:24 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

I haven't seen this one, sounds interesting!
I would agree with Mrs. HH- The Thin Man movies are perhaps the peak in that category.
Also a great one that's sort of in that grouping is another William Powell flick with Jean Arthur: The Ex-Mrs. Bradford. It plays on TCM from time to time, but isn't on DVD...yet. It was released on VHS.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

William Powell was in several good guy/girl detective movies. I've enjoyed, but haven't watched in years, Star of Midnight with Powell and Ginger Rogers. They aren't married in this one, but Ginger's working on it as I remember. ;-)


2:36 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

That's another one I haven't seen but would love to see. Rumors circulate about a William Powell set, possibly a Philo Vance set from Warners. It may depend on how well the Myrna Loy/William Powell set that comes out on Aug. 7th sells. The Thin Man Set is still one of their best selling DVD boxsets of all time.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I definitely agree about THE THIN MAN! Mentally I was comparing THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN with "lesser" (almost "B") husband-wife detective movies, but I neglected to say so in my post. :)

BTW, I was doing some reading last night and according to THE FILMS OF RITA HAYWORTH by Gene Ringgold, she originally had a much bigger part in THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN, as a friend of Joan Blondell's, but it was left on the cutting-room floor.

Along the lines of husband-wife murder mysteries, I'm curious about the Joel & Garda Sloane movies -- MGM made 3 of these in '38-'39 -- with 3 completely different casts as the Sloanes! They're apparently about husband-wife booksellers/detectives. I have the Franchot Tone-Ann Sothern model, FAST AND FURIOUS, on tape but haven't watched it yet. That will probably be one of the next myteries I catch up with. FAST AND LOOSE, with Rosalind Russell and Robert Montgomery, is on TCM in August, if I remember correctly, so I'll be recording it. The other one, FAST COMPANY, stars Melvyn Douglas (filmed in between the two "Riordan" mysteries -- with Thurston Hall playing a D.A., as he did in THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN, too) and Florence Rice.

I enjoyed THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD. Am completely unfamiliar with STAR OF MIDNIGHT -- two of my all-time favorites, with Powell and Rogers! That is a must-see -- thanks for the tip, Missy!

J.C., I am doing my part to encourage them to put out more William Powell. I'll definitely be buying the new Powell-Loy set to sit on the shelf alongside the THIN MAN set. Powell is near the very top of my all-time favorite actors list.

Best wishes,

5:04 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I thought I had Star of Midnight on video, but I can't find it...mine are not organized like Laura's! I'll have to watch for new WP DVDs, thanks!


10:01 PM  

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