Torchy Blane in Panama


58m 1938
Torchy Blane in Panama

Brief Synopsis

An ambitious newspaper woman traces bank robbers to an ocean liner.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 7, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by Frederick Nebel.

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

When Gahagan, a policeman, witnesses a bank robbery during a parade of the Loyal Order of Leopards, he rushes off to call his boss, Steve McBride. Moments after Steve arrives at the bank, reporter Torchy Blane, Steve's fiancée, follows in order to do some investigating of her own. She is miffed to find another reporter there ahead of her, so when Steve ignores her after she finds a lodge button wedged in a teller's cage, she breaks the story in her newspaper, The Star . Steve discovers that the pin's owner has been dead for three years, but still Torchy theorizes that the thief will travel with the Los Angeles delegation of Leopards, returning home by way of Panama, in order to pass the stolen money outside the country. Steve laughs at her theory and then leaves for Panama without her. Furious, Torchy parachutes into the ocean, forcing the ship to rescue her. On board, she ignores Steve and flirts with all the Leopards, trying to identify the thief. Her attention focuses on Stan Crafton after Gahagan tells her that he did not know the secret Leopard handshake, but a search of his stateroom yields no money. Crafton sees Torchy leaving his stateroom with Steve, so he sneaks off the boat in Panama with the money, which he has hidden in the mascot, a stuffed leopard. By accident, Torchy sees him leave and follows him, leaving a note for Steve. As soon as the ship docks at the other end of the Canal, Steve flies back to look for Torchy. In the meantime, Crafton has caught her spying on him and plans to kill her. Steve spots her wet clothes drying on Crafton's balcony and breaks in, shooting Crafton. Gahagan helps Torchy make her scoop and Steve proposes again.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 7, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by Frederick Nebel.

Technical Specs

Duration
58m
Film Length
6 reels

Articles

Torchy Blane in Panama


Pulp magazine writer Fred Nebel conceived of investigative reporter Torchy Blane as a man, but Warners performed a gender swap to create a snappy series heroine for their contract player Glenda Farrell. The spirited Ms. Farrell was perhaps less romantic than Joan Blondell. But she could dish witty and naughty dialogue at a dizzying pace. She had already played snoopy, funny news hens in several pictures including the classic Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). The 'Torchy' films proved so popular that when Farrell became unavailable for one episode, the studio substituted Lola Lane, the older sister of Rosemary Lane and Priscilla Lane. Torchy Blane in Panama also changed the actor playing Torchy's policeman boyfriend Steve McBride, replacing Barton MacLane with Paul Kelly. Actor Tom Kennedy was retained as Steve's comical aide Gahagan, a supremely dumb cop. The erratic story begins with a bank robbery in which a teller is killed. Torchy deduces that the thief is hiding among the members of the Royal Order of Leopards, and is with the lodge revelers on a boat excursion to the Canal Zone, a good place to exchange the stolen cash. To catch up with her rival reporter Bill Canby (Larry Williams), Torchy parachutes out of a plane and boards the Panama-bound steamboat in mid-voyage. As Torchy zeroes in on the thief, she also hopes for a marriage proposal from Steve, who is on the trail of the thief as well. The short feature never takes itself seriously, but does find the time for some stock-footage glimpses of the Panama Canal. Two songs are provided courtesy of composer Harry Warren. Glenda Farrell returned promptly for the next series chapter, Torchy Gets Her Man (1938). But Lola Lane's one appearance as Torchy Blane did have a lasting influence. When inventing a female reporter to be a love interest for their new comic strip superhero Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were reportedly influenced by Glenda Farrell's performance, and Lola Lane's alliterative name.

By Glenn Erickson
Torchy Blane In Panama

Torchy Blane in Panama

Pulp magazine writer Fred Nebel conceived of investigative reporter Torchy Blane as a man, but Warners performed a gender swap to create a snappy series heroine for their contract player Glenda Farrell. The spirited Ms. Farrell was perhaps less romantic than Joan Blondell. But she could dish witty and naughty dialogue at a dizzying pace. She had already played snoopy, funny news hens in several pictures including the classic Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). The 'Torchy' films proved so popular that when Farrell became unavailable for one episode, the studio substituted Lola Lane, the older sister of Rosemary Lane and Priscilla Lane. Torchy Blane in Panama also changed the actor playing Torchy's policeman boyfriend Steve McBride, replacing Barton MacLane with Paul Kelly. Actor Tom Kennedy was retained as Steve's comical aide Gahagan, a supremely dumb cop. The erratic story begins with a bank robbery in which a teller is killed. Torchy deduces that the thief is hiding among the members of the Royal Order of Leopards, and is with the lodge revelers on a boat excursion to the Canal Zone, a good place to exchange the stolen cash. To catch up with her rival reporter Bill Canby (Larry Williams), Torchy parachutes out of a plane and boards the Panama-bound steamboat in mid-voyage. As Torchy zeroes in on the thief, she also hopes for a marriage proposal from Steve, who is on the trail of the thief as well. The short feature never takes itself seriously, but does find the time for some stock-footage glimpses of the Panama Canal. Two songs are provided courtesy of composer Harry Warren. Glenda Farrell returned promptly for the next series chapter, Torchy Gets Her Man (1938). But Lola Lane's one appearance as Torchy Blane did have a lasting influence. When inventing a female reporter to be a love interest for their new comic strip superhero Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were reportedly influenced by Glenda Farrell's performance, and Lola Lane's alliterative name. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This was the first of two films in the "Torchy Blane" series to star an actress other than Glenda Farrell as "Torchy" and an actor other than Barton MacLane as "Steve." Farrell and MacLane returned to the series for three additional films, but the last film in the series, Torchy Blane Plays with Dynamite (see below), featured Jane Wyman as "Torchy" and Allen Jenkins as "Steve." For more information, consult the Series Index and see entry above for Smart Blonde.