The Good Humor Man
Cast & Crew
Good Humor ice cream salesman Biff Jones makes a daily visit to the building where his girl friend, Margie Bellew, works as secretary to insurance investigator Stuart Nagel. One afternoon, Biff and Nagel, who is also attracted to Margie, quarrel, and Nagel bars Biff from the building. Despite her love for Biff, Margie refuses to marry him because she has her younger brother Johnny to support. Biff and Johnny are fast friends, however, and Johnny has made Biff the only adult member of the Captain Marvel club. While driving his route one day, Biff is hit by a car carrying Bonnie Conroy and several men. Bonnie begs Biff to save her from the men, but when the men start to beat him, she runs away. Later, Biff tells his story to police inspector Quint, who does not believe him, and as a result, Biff loses his job. Later, after Margie at last agrees to marry him, Biff decides to sell so many Good Humor bars that the company will take him back. As he drives by a seemingly empty house, Biff is summoned by a furtive Bonnie, who promises to buy all his ice cream bars if he agrees to spend the night in the house and protect her. Biff fortifies the house as Captain Marvel would, but the next morning, he discovers Bonnie dead and, because the windows and doors are still fastened, becomes convinced that he strangled her in his sleep. Seeing Biff's truck in the street, Margie and Johnny investigate and, misunderstanding Biff's presence in the house, Margie breaks off her engagement. Biff again tells an unbelievable story to Quint, and when they all arrive back at the house, the body is gone. That night, Nagel and Margie investigate a robbery and murder, and when a Good Humor truck is found to have visited the scene of the crime, Biff becomes the prime suspect. Margie then decides to help Biff prove his innocence. Together, they check the laundry mark on Bonnie's nightgown, which was left behind in the house, and are able to trace her body to an apartment. While they are trying to call the police, several men return to the room and retrieve $300,000, the exact amount that was stolen from the murder scene the previous night. After the men leave, Margie and Biff again try to call Quint, but are surprised by the sudden appearance of Bonnie, who reveals that she has epileptic fits that sometimes make her seem dead. Bonnie holds them at gunpoint until the rest of the gang returns. Margie and Biff overcome the thugs, and after learning that Quint is on his way to Nagel's, Margie calls her boss and leaves a message with him. Unknown to Margie, Nagel is the head of the gang, and he instructs Margie to meet him at the Captain Marvel clubhouse. The members of the club overcome the crooks, however. Bonnie later explains that she lured Biff to the house so that the thieves could use his truck and his uniform for the robbery. Now that the criminals have been captured, Biff and Margie seal their success with a kiss.
Robert B. Williams
Paul E. Burns
Robert Emmett Keane
Jean "babe" London
S. Sylvan Simon
The Good Humor Man
Albright had recently been featured in Champion (1949). She married Jack Carson soon after making this film, a union that lasted until their divorce in 1958. That same year, she started work on the TV series Peter Gunn, in a role that would mark her greatest claim to fame.
Behind the scenes of The Good Humor Man were two masters of comedy, one nearing the end of his career and the other having only just begun. Director Lloyd Bacon was for decades one of Warner Brothers' most reliable, hard-working, and fast-working directors, and his career stretched back to the Keystone comedy days. He brought a skilled craftsman's experience to the inventive action and physical comedy on display here. As The Hollywood Reporter said, "With a man like Lloyd Bacon as director you can be sure that the gags are played to the hilt and that every ounce of humor is dragged from the zany proceedings. He can take a good share of the credit for the successful emergence of Jack Carson as a solo comedian. The film is definitely Carson's show, designed to please his fans. He may find it difficult to top this job."
Variety echoed this assessment, calling the picture "eighty minutes of fun and frolic... The physical gags and action are a throwback to the two-reeler days, done with the perfectionistic timing of the present film era."
The second, younger, comic master at work here was screenwriter Frank Tashlin. He had begun his career as a cartoonist, honing a sensibility that carried over into his live-action films. The Good Humor Man was the second screenplay written by Tashlin that Lloyd Bacon directed, following Miss Grant Takes Richmond (1949). Tashlin would go on to write two more films for Bacon: Kill the Umpire (1950) and The Fuller Brush Girl (1950).
But Tashlin generally wasn't happy with the way his scripts were being directed. According to a biographical article in the 1994 Locarno Film Festival program book, Tashlin wrote a letter around this time in which he cited this film and Kill the Umpire as examples of "what 'experienced' directors have done to some recent scripts of mine -- and the horrible casting that 'experienced' producers have done.... See them and weep. Believe me, originally these were bright scripts, but when the butchers, right down to cutting, get through, you're ready to step in front of a fast freight.... In Hollywood, the writer is always the fall guy."
Soon after this film, Tashlin would direct parts of The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) and then fully direct The First Time (1952) -- beginning one of the major directing careers in all of American film comedy.
The Good Humor Man opened in many cities as the top half of a double bill with the fine, low-budget film noir Armored Car Robbery (1950).
By Jeremy Arnold
The Good Humor Man
Jack Carson was married to Lola Albright from 1952 to 1958. At the time of the film, "the Good Humor Man," as depicted in the film, sold ice cream from the Good Humor Company throughout the United States.