Smart Blonde: Directed by Frank McDonald. With Glenda Farrell, Barton MacLane, Wini Shaw, Addison Richards. Female reporter Torchy Blane teams with her cop boyfriend Lt. Steve McBride to solve the killing of an investor who just bought a popular local nightclub.
Back when I watched “Mystery of the Wax Museum” in 2018 I was enamored with Glenda Farrell, who I incorrectly thought was playing Torchy Blane in the 1933 film. Torchy is essentially Glenda, so I can see how I was confused on that point, but seeing her there made me put the “Torchy Blane Collection” on my amazon wishlist and I finally broke down and bought it for myself. It’s a collection of the 9 official Torchy films, starting with 1937’s “Smart Blonde”.
To start it off, I wasn’t able to find HD transfers of this collection, I think it was only released on DVD, and the transfers are absolute garage with the bare minimum done to get the films from celluloid to digital disk. Dust, hair, physical static, and all sorts of framing issues abound. It’s bad enough to get in the way of the film, but it’s a shame these haven’t been cleaned up and had an HD capture done.
The content of the film itself is just as witty as I was hoping for from Glenda Farrell, she’s a fantastically wise cracking investigative journalist with a razor wit and is able to figure out the mystery before pretty much anyone else on screen. There’s plenty of interesting technology things that happen throughout the film, as you might expect for a film that’s nearing it’s 100th anniversary, I particularlly laughed and marveled at this line:
“Works better with the switch on ” cars needed switches before you could turn the key?
The one huge distraction in the film was an absolutely unforgivably racist moment in which a cop is running up to a train station to stop a woman from getting out of town and he has a conversation with three black porters standing at the entrance. The DVD set is absolute bargain basement in terms of presentation and packaging, but it would have been great to have a WB style “hey there’s some stuff that was typical of the time on here, it was wrong then and it’s wrong now.” but alas, they were barely able to even get the list of films on the back of the dvd box.