Blondes at Work (1938)

  • Oh, hey! It’s Torchy (Glenda Farrell) & Skipper (Barton MacLane)! They’re back!
  • This time, a department store owner called Marvin Spencer (Kenneth Harlan) has disappeared.
  • Before Torchy & Skipper can get going on their “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” style of investigating/solving cases, Steve’s boss (Captain McTavish, played by Frank Shannon) tells Skipper that he’s had enough of his & Torchy’s codependent working relationship, and that they (Torchy & Skipper) need to call that part of their life together quits.
  • Steve’s boss suggests Steve finally marry Torchy so she’ll quit her job & stay home to tend to the house.

Good one, McTavish! Like that would ever happen. (Eye roll.)

  • Skipper meets Torchy at a restaurant to deliver McTavish’s instructive, and Torchy nods along & agrees not to involve herself with Steve’s involvement in the new case…

…but we all know that she has ZERO intention of leaving Skipper or the case alone.

  • When Skipper gets up to leave the restaurant, Torchy says, “Oh, Steve…aren’t you forgetting something?” Steve mutters something about not liking public displays of affection & how Torchy should know that by now – and then Torchy’s like, ‘No – pay for my dinner.’ And Steve does. It’s great.
  • Spencer turned up dead (stabbed!) in a hotel. Steve knew first – but Torchy was close behind & printed an article all about it in the Star (what happened to the Herald?), though Skipper wanted the whole thing kept under wraps. Trouble in paradise!
  • Skipper takes a handkerchief with a lipstick stain (that was found in Spencer’s pocket) to a friend of his who works at a beauty store. She analyzes the lipstick based on the shade (she apparently really knows her stuff) and it’s awesome. Where would Steve be without help from intelligent, badass women?

(Answer: Not much of anywhere, you guys. Not much of anywhere.)

  • Skipper & his police cohort visit the models at Spencer’s department store, & from them get the name of a likely suspect, who used to model there & was romantically involved with Spencer: Louisa Revelle.
  • (The scene in which Skipper asks the models questions is pretty great – the two girls (Olive, played by Suzanne Kaaren & Carol, played by Carole Landis) who take the lead in answering come across very genuinely; Landis & Kaaren do an excellent job.)
  • Torchy tracks down Louisa Revelle herself (because Torchy is brilliant) & brings her into the police station.
  • Skipper refuses to see Torchy at first, because he’s pissed about her working the case independently & leaking all the info to the press – but he quickly changes his tune when Torchy says the magic words “I’d like you to meet Ms. Revelle.”

(Louisa (Rosella Towne) maintains her innocence.)

  • Skipper finds the murder weapon lodged in the telephone box in Spencer’s office – but alas, there are no fingerprints on it.

Womp, womp. We’re still prime-suspect-less.

  • There’s potentially a guy named Greer (Donald Briggs) who’s involved – but considering he was seen assisting an already stabbed Spencer down the street & into a taxi – it doesn’t seem likely that he’d attacked the guy a couple minutes previously.
  • Aw…poor Gahagan. (Gahagan, played by Tom Kennedy, is Steve’s driver, who appears in all the Torchy films & says things like “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy” and “What a day, what a day!”) Anyway, Torchy’s been reading the notes Gahagan takes in his journal to figure out what Steve’s been up to, case-wise. Gahagan didn’t know that Torchy had a duplicate key made to open his glovebox, where he keeps the journal. But Skipper just figured all of this out and was absolutely livid.

Poor, well-intentioned Gahagan. He needs a hug.

  • Oh, hooray – a nice & tidy ending to this one, unlike THE ADVENTUROUS BLONDE (1938). So:
  • Greer is convicted of murder by a jury, because all signs point to him being the killer…plus he doesn’t argue with it, at all. This turns out to be because LOUISA was the murderess all along!
  • Spencer & Greer were fighting over Louisa, when Spencer started beating up on Greer. Greer pulled a gun, but Spencer got hold of it, & was about to pull the trigger when Louisa stabbed him, to save Greer. Greer, being a gentleman, decided to take the blame, if it came down to it (spoiler: it did come down to it) – and Spencer, apparently also trying to protect Louisa (earth to Marvin – the woman just STABBED you with a letter-opener! Maybe now’s not the best time to shield her from the law), leaves the scene of the incident with Greer, so as to be separated from all the evidence.
  • Torchy has been put in jail for eavesdropping on the Greer jury…so in a super cute ending – Skipper tells the Star the scoop on Louisa’s confession, on Torchy’s behalf, before any other papers catch word of it. It’s pretty damn adorable.
  • Not my favorite Torchy film, though, all things considered. Not quite as memorable as all the rest, I don’t think.
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