I Love Trouble

Premiered January 10, 1948: I LOVE TROUBLE, starring Franchot Tone, Janet Blair, and Janis Carter.  Directed by S. Sylvan Simon (Whistling in the Dark, Son of Lassie, The Fuller Brush Man).  Franchot Tone is a private detective hired by Tom Powers to uncover the truth about Powers’ wife’s (Lynn Merrick) questionable past.  ilovetroubleInitial clues take Tone from Los Angeles to Merrick’s home town of Portland, where he discovers she worked for a shady club owner (Steven Geray) before abruptly moving to Los Angeles four years prior to marrying Powers.  Her life during those four years is shrouded in mystery, and Tone spends most of the story trying to shed light on her activities during that time.  He encounters an assortment of characters in his investigation, most of whom are easily manipulated into revealing information with a simple cash bribe.  Of course, there’s a contingent of shady toughs who make it very clear they don’t appreciate Tone nosing around, and a woman (Janet Blair) who claims to be Merrick’s sister and tries to befriend Tone, but her motivations are highly suspect.  I Love Trouble is an enjoyable, if largely unspectacular, detective mystery.  The plot has enough twists and turns to keep the story interesting, but after Tone starts bouncing repeatedly between all the supporting characters, it does begin to feel a little contrived, as if the story were stretched out to fill time, which can make it a little difficult to follow in places.  Fortunately, the dialog is peppered with entertaining one-liners and comebacks to keep the viewer engaged for the duration.  However, one aspect of the film that is so bad it must be mentioned, is the music.  With the exception of a handful of scenes where it successfully punctuates the action, the music is completely incongruous to the mood of nearly every scene, to the point of distraction, and does nothing to enhance the story.  The film would’ve been better off without any music at all.  I Love Trouble maintains a generally lighthearted feel and is not as dark as many other noirs, which is due in part to Tone’s jaunty performance.  Franchot Tone was a popular actor in the 1930s and 40s who appeared in many films, but he doesn’t quite hit the mark in the role of private eye.  His performance is acceptable, but he comes across a little too sophisticated and lacking in cynicism to pull off a convincing classic noir gumshoe.  I Love Trouble has its share of problems and doesn’t venture that deep into noir territory, but it does offer a competent and compelling detective story that should appeal to most viewers.  We give I Love Trouble 2.5 out of 5 fedoras.

2.5 Fedoras

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