Flynn, on vacation
13 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
From time to time Errol Flynn would demand and be given a break from the earnest heroism and physical labor of his adventure films and be given a role in a modern, (meaning 1941 here), comedy. The Perfect Specimen (1937), Four's a Crowd (1938) and this film are all perfectly watchable but minor and derivative comedies that showed that Flynn could play the sorts of roles they demanded but without making the sort of impression that William Powell or Cary Grant would make in the films they were fashioned after. If Flynn had tried to make a career of these films, we would not have heard of him today.

Here he's an investment counselor, (a rather dull profession), who writes mystery novels on the side and decides to try and solve one when one of his clients is killed. He deceives his wife, (Brenda Marshall, who had just co-starred with Flynn in The Sea Hawk), and mother-in-law with whom he lives by using a pseudonym because his novels tend to mock their social class. He carries on a cat-and-mouse relationship with his friends on the police force who don't think much of his novels or his amateur sleuthing, especially when they come to suspect him of being the murderer. He has to clear himself and find the real murderer while keeping his activities secret from the two women at home, who being to suspect him of having an affair because of his secrecy and then of being the murderer when they learn about it. He comes to suspect his wife of murder when a second victim is revealed because this one was an attractive blonde in cahoots with the real murderer and she thought this might be her rival for Flynn's affections.

About 80% of the film is about the comic situations that arise out of this and the rest serious reactions to the fact that people are being killed, which makes the film seem too lightweight. With The Thin Man films, which this one obviously wants to emulate, the humor intervened occasionally on the drama, a better mix for the subject matter.

As with so many films from this era of filmmaking, the character actors do as much to carry the show as the stars. Alan Hale, who is in 13 of Flynn's films, plays the police inspector who is no fool but who isn't looking for trouble where it doesn't appear to be. William Frawley, (a decade before he became Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy), provides the dumb cop needed to make the hero appear smart. Allen Jenkins is Flynn's faithful sidekick, as he was to so many stars in so many films. Lee Patrick, who this same year played Humphrey Bogart's faithful secretary in The Maltese Falcon, is the ill-fated blonde. Ralph Bellamy is a dentist who might not be the nice guy he seems to be. Lucille Watson plays Brenda Marshall's haughty and suspicious mother.

A movie goer looking for a couple hours entertainment in 1941 wouldn't be contemptuous of this but he would probably hope that next week's feature would be better. Today we just see it as Flynn keeping busy between the films that really mattered, even if he probably enjoyed making this one more than the ones we prefer to remember.
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