Fast and Furious


1h 13m 1939
Fast and Furious

Brief Synopsis

Married book-dealers Joel and Garda Sloane get mixed up with murder during a beauty pageant.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 6, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Joel and Garda Sloane, a husband and wife sleuthing duo, sell rare books in New York and dream of taking a vacation to escape the sweltering heat of the city. Joel decides to take Garda to Seaside City, where his pal, Mike Stevens, is managing a popular beauty pageant. In addition to his vacation plans, Joel, who has invested $10,000 in the pageant, plans to supervise the financial developments of the event and "keep an eye on" the contestants. Soon after arriving in Seaside City, Joel discovers that Eric Bartell, the unscrupulous promoter of the pageant, is duping Stevens. When Joel is made a beauty judge by Stevens, Garda balks at the appointment, especially when her husband begins to socialize with the contestants in the days prior to the pageant. Joel senses trouble when New York racketeer Ed Connors arrives to monitor Bartell's activities, and when Lily Cole, Bartell's publicity director, lashes out at contestant Jerry Lawrence for vying with her for Bartell's attentions. Joel is convinced that something foul is afoot in Seaside City when a detective tells him that Bartell will be arrested on swindling charges as soon as a warrant is issued. When Bartell is mysteriously murdered, Stevens, who was the last person seen with Bartell, is arrested. Stevens is suspected of the crime because he went to see Bartell to demand that he return all the money he loaned him. Although Joel and Garda are warned by Chief Miller not to get involved in the case, the duo, with the help of newspaper columnist Ted Bentley, begin to investigate the murder. Soon after, an attempt is made on their lives when a falling elevator nearly crushes them. Joel does not believe that Stevens was the murderer, but instead suspects Lily, because she and Bartell were involved in a dispute prior to the murder. Later, when Joel discovers that Jerry smokes the same brand of cigarettes as the one found smoldering at the scene of Bartell's murder, he interrogates her and she names Connors as the murderer. Connors, overhearing her accusation, attacks her and tells Joel that she is merely trying to frame him. When Jerry is found murdered, Joel deduces that the murderer must be Bentley, because he is the only person who knew that he had proof against Jerry. Joel tricks Bentley into confessing his guilt, but Bentley, in an attempt to silence Joel, tries to kill him. However, he is prevented from doing so by the police, who arrest him. Eventually, Joel learns that Bentley killed Bartell because Jerry threw him over for Bartell, and that he killed Jerry because she knew too much.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 6, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Fast and Furious


Ann Sothern and director Busby Berkeley were beginning their contracts at MGM while Franchot Tone was ending his in the last of three films depicting the adventures of husband-and-wife book dealers who kept getting involved in murder. Though the tale of homicide at a beauty pageant was not in the same league as such classic 1939 releases as The Wizard of Oz or The Women, it still had the kind of breezy good humor that made the B-movies of Hollywood's golden age so much fun.

Joel and Garda Sloane first sleuthed in Marco Page's 1938 story Fast Company. At the time, the studio was looking for insurance in case the popular Thin Man series folded. Star William Powell had been off-screen for a year, first mourning the death of fiancÈe Jean Harlow, then recovering from cancer surgery. His on-screen partner, Myrna Loy, was in the midst of one of her many battles with the studio, so executives started looking for a new team that would click with fans. Originally, they planned to make a Thin Man film with Melvyn Douglas and Virginia Bruce, but fearing a bad audience reaction, they decided to try another series instead.

So MGM hired Page - under his real name, Harry Kurnitz - to adapt his story. The first Sloane mystery, Fast Company, starred Douglas and Florence Rice in 1938. With decent audience response, MGM picked up another Page story, Fast and Loose (1939). This time they changed the cast, teaming Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, with the latter showing the first inkling of her talents for comedy. Again, the film performed respectably, but with no more original stories to adapt, Kurnitz created a new adventure for Fast and Furious, and once again, the studio changed the casting.

Franchot Tone had been with MGM since 1932, but the studio had never given him the kind of build-up it takes to make a major star. Though he had scored an OscarÆ nomination for Best Actor in 1935's Mutiny on the Bounty, he was mainly used for supporting roles in big-budget films and leads in Bs. By 1939, he was ready for a change and declined to renew his contract. Fast and Furious completed his commitment, and he returned to the stage, with only occasional film roles from then on.

By contrast, Fast and Furious was Sothern's second film as an MGM contract player, after ten years of working her way up from the chorus. Although she had starred in musicals on Broadway under her real name, Harriet Lake, it had taken her a while to establish any kind of screen presence.

Fast and Furious marked a reunion for Sothern and director Berkeley. In her early Hollywood days, she had been in the chorus of some of his Warner Bros. musicals, most recognizably in the "Shanghai Lil" number in Footlight Parade. Berkeley had left Warner's for MGM in 1938. After staging the finale for Jeanette MacDonald in 1938's Broadway Serenade and directing Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1939's Babes in Arms, MGM gave him a shot at a non-musical film with Fast and Furious. It wasn't too much of a stretch, however, as the film's beauty pageant scenes gave him a chance to draw on the skills he'd used staging chorus girls and boys in the past.

But it would be the end of the road for the Sloanes. By changing the leads in each film, MGM had kept audiences from developing any connection to the characters. And with Powell and Loy back at work on more Thin Man films, a second husband-and-wife mystery series seemed superfluous.

Producer: Frederick Stephani
Director: Busby Berkeley
Screenplay: Harry Kurnitz
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart
Music: D. Amfitheatrof, C. Bakaleinikoff
Principal Cast: Franchot Tone (Joel Sloane), Ann Sothern (Garda Sloane), Ruth Hussey (Lily Cole), Lee Bowman (Mike Stevens), Allyn Joslyn (Ted Bentley), John Miljan (Eric Bartell).
BW-74m.

By Frank Miller

Fast And Furious

Fast and Furious

Ann Sothern and director Busby Berkeley were beginning their contracts at MGM while Franchot Tone was ending his in the last of three films depicting the adventures of husband-and-wife book dealers who kept getting involved in murder. Though the tale of homicide at a beauty pageant was not in the same league as such classic 1939 releases as The Wizard of Oz or The Women, it still had the kind of breezy good humor that made the B-movies of Hollywood's golden age so much fun. Joel and Garda Sloane first sleuthed in Marco Page's 1938 story Fast Company. At the time, the studio was looking for insurance in case the popular Thin Man series folded. Star William Powell had been off-screen for a year, first mourning the death of fiancÈe Jean Harlow, then recovering from cancer surgery. His on-screen partner, Myrna Loy, was in the midst of one of her many battles with the studio, so executives started looking for a new team that would click with fans. Originally, they planned to make a Thin Man film with Melvyn Douglas and Virginia Bruce, but fearing a bad audience reaction, they decided to try another series instead. So MGM hired Page - under his real name, Harry Kurnitz - to adapt his story. The first Sloane mystery, Fast Company, starred Douglas and Florence Rice in 1938. With decent audience response, MGM picked up another Page story, Fast and Loose (1939). This time they changed the cast, teaming Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, with the latter showing the first inkling of her talents for comedy. Again, the film performed respectably, but with no more original stories to adapt, Kurnitz created a new adventure for Fast and Furious, and once again, the studio changed the casting. Franchot Tone had been with MGM since 1932, but the studio had never given him the kind of build-up it takes to make a major star. Though he had scored an OscarÆ nomination for Best Actor in 1935's Mutiny on the Bounty, he was mainly used for supporting roles in big-budget films and leads in Bs. By 1939, he was ready for a change and declined to renew his contract. Fast and Furious completed his commitment, and he returned to the stage, with only occasional film roles from then on. By contrast, Fast and Furious was Sothern's second film as an MGM contract player, after ten years of working her way up from the chorus. Although she had starred in musicals on Broadway under her real name, Harriet Lake, it had taken her a while to establish any kind of screen presence. Fast and Furious marked a reunion for Sothern and director Berkeley. In her early Hollywood days, she had been in the chorus of some of his Warner Bros. musicals, most recognizably in the "Shanghai Lil" number in Footlight Parade. Berkeley had left Warner's for MGM in 1938. After staging the finale for Jeanette MacDonald in 1938's Broadway Serenade and directing Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1939's Babes in Arms, MGM gave him a shot at a non-musical film with Fast and Furious. It wasn't too much of a stretch, however, as the film's beauty pageant scenes gave him a chance to draw on the skills he'd used staging chorus girls and boys in the past. But it would be the end of the road for the Sloanes. By changing the leads in each film, MGM had kept audiences from developing any connection to the characters. And with Powell and Loy back at work on more Thin Man films, a second husband-and-wife mystery series seemed superfluous. Producer: Frederick Stephani Director: Busby Berkeley Screenplay: Harry Kurnitz Cinematography: Ray June Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart Music: D. Amfitheatrof, C. Bakaleinikoff Principal Cast: Franchot Tone (Joel Sloane), Ann Sothern (Garda Sloane), Ruth Hussey (Lily Cole), Lee Bowman (Mike Stevens), Allyn Joslyn (Ted Bentley), John Miljan (Eric Bartell). BW-74m. By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film, which was director Busby Berkeley's first non-musical assignment, was the third and final installment in M-G-M's series about the comical mystery exploits of the Sloanes. According to Hollywood Reporter, Mary Beth Hughes replaced Virginia Grey, who was completing work on another film. Although Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items note that lion tamer Laura Roth was signed to appear in the cat sequence, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item indicates that Joe Yule, actor Mickey Rooney's father, was set for his first role, a "topline," in the film, but he did not appear in the released film. According to studio publicity material, filming of the beauty pageant scenes on location at the Rainbow Pier in Long Beach, California, was hampered by local fisherman and onlookers, who crowded the pier to get a glimpse of the actresses. In addition, police officers reportedly attempted to serve a summons to the production crew for "staging a contest or parade without suitable permit," but were dissuaded from doing so by Berkeley. More information on the Joel and Garda Sloane detective series can be found in the entry for Fast Company (see below) and the Series Index.