Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Bamboo Blonde (1946)

THE BAMBOO BLONDE is a charming little 68-minute musical starring the wonderful singer Frances Langford. It also happens to be one of the early "B" movie directing credits of Anthony Mann, best known for his film noir and Western titles.

Wealthy Patrick Ransom Jr. (Russell Wade) is a pilot headed to serve in the South Pacific. Pat's witchy fiancee Eileen (Jane Greer) can't be bothered to share his last evening in the States or see him off, but then he happens to meet a very nice singer, Louise (Frances Langford). Pat and Louise hit it off, and Pat takes a photo of her with him overseas.

Pat's crew, thinking Louise is his fiancee, surprise him by using the photo to paint Louise's picture on their plane, dubbing her "the Bamboo Blonde." The crew's missions are such a success that they are called back to the States for a bond tour, which reunites Pat with both Louise and Eileen. Pat and Louise are in love, but Eileen's determined to cause problems...

THE BAMBOO BLONDE is a film unknown to many, but for a little-known film it sure had me smiling much of the running time. It's simply a nice, tuneful movie with a cute story. The songs aren't well-known either, but I found them quite enjoyable, especially "Right Along About Evening" and "Dreaming Out Loud." The movie is a nifty relic of the war era, and a great opportunity to enjoy Langford's lovely voice at some length.

By happy coincidence, this is the third Jane Greer film I've seen in the last few days, following her later films STATION WEST (1948) and THE COMPANY SHE KEEPS (1951). I'd forgotten she was in this one until the opening credits started rolling! The film's script and time constraints are such that Greer is just the stereotypical snooty rich girlfriend here, without any of the interesting shadings and nuances of her later characters. The following year she starred in OUT OF THE PAST (1947), and the rest is film noir history.

The cast also includes Ralph Edwards (of THIS IS YOUR LIFE fame), Iris Adrian, Paul Harvey, Regina Wallace, Jean Brooks, Glenn Vernon, and Jason Robards Sr.

THE BAMBOO BLONDE came at the tail end of a run of 10 "B" movies director Mann made between 1942 and 1946; these films were a mix of musicals and crime films, including the equally engaging STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944) and TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945). Mann then worked on a trio of 1947 releases, DESPERATE, RAILROADED!, and T-MEN, and his successful career as a director was off to new heights.

THE BAMBOO BLONDE is available in a good print from the Warner Archive.

It's also been shown on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. Sounds like a little winner. Russell Wade was a cutie.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Kevin Deany said...

I recorded this one off TCM the other day. Looking forward to it.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Showler said...

Thanks for your "musings" on Bamboo Blonde, I see two of my favorite ladies are in it, Miss Langford & Adrian, I will have to look on Ebay to find a copy.
Thanks again,
Dave S.

5:39 AM  

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