|Rating: The Good – 76
Duration: 88 mins
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Stars: Franchot Tone, Janet Blair, Janis Carter
Dig into the archives of film-noir and it’s not long before you unearth a forgotten jewel. I love Trouble is one such dusty gem. Franchot Tone is the smart quipping gumshoe, Stuart Bailey, hired by a concerned husband to investigate his wife’s history. A complicated mystery unravels as Bailey moves between Baltimore and California putting the pieces together and juggling one shrewd lady character after another. Don’t get too hung up on the jovial title nor that playful introduction which counts as the first of many bluffs, this is a hard boiled sidewinder of the Raymond Chandler variety. That it’s not Chandler but Roy Huggins who penned it isn’t as much of a disadvantage as some might think for it’s an astute reproduction of the former’s work, in particular, The Lady in the Lake and Farewell My Lovely/Murder My Sweet. The dialogue burning with caustic wit drives the plot forward one baby step at a time until you won’t know where it’s headed. And it’s cast reasonably well too. Tone is more Powell than Bogart but he can dust himself off and crack wise with the best of ’em. John Ireland scores well as the sinister henchman of Steven Geray’s shady nightclub owner but it’s the ladies who share Tone’s limelight. Janet Blair is suitably suspicious as the potential love interest while Janis Carter’s highly secretive lady of leisure makes for an even more ambiguous presence. S. Sylvan Simon offers an assured touch behind the camera and keeps the tension balanced despite the twists and turns. Alas, what came natural to Chandler was a tad mechanical to Huggins and the second-third act transition labours because of it. Simon reigns it in with enough time to spare however and presents us with a wry old ending that Chandler himself would be proud of.