Cast & Crew
Police Lieutenant Steve McBride is in trouble with his superiors because they suspect him of leaking police information to his fiancée, crack reporter Torchy Blane. During the course of an argument, Torchy and Steve agree that they will not exchange information about police cases in the future. When Bon Ton department store heir Marvin Spencer is found murdered, however, Torchy stops at nothing to scoop the other papers. She sneaks a look at the diary that Gahagan, Steve's driver, keeps locked in his glove compartment, and the clues she finds there lead her to Louisa Revelle, the woman who was with Spencer the night he was stabbed. Louisa admits to Torchy that millionaire Maitland Greer was also present that night, and although she is upset when Greer is charged with murder, Louisa will say nothing more. Always one step ahead of the police, Torchy eavesdrops on the jury room, overhears their decision to declare Greer guilty, and breaks the story in an extra edition of the Star before the verdict is announced in court. Furious, the judge sentences her to jail for contempt. Visiting her a few days later, Steve tells her that after the verdict was announced, Louisa broke down and confessed that she stabbed Spencer when he treatened to shoot Greer, her new lover. Steve adds that it seems like a case of self-defense and speculates that both Louisa and Greer will be cleared. Torchy is pleased that things will work out, but is disappointed that for once, her paper didn't break the story. Then Steve admits that he gave the story to the Star before the other papers, and once again Torchy scoops them all.
Thomas E. Jackson
Theodore Von Eltz
J. G. Mcmahon
Julius Molnar Jr.
Blondes at Work
Blondes at Work was a very fast shoot, going into production on October 1, 1937 and wrapping exactly one month later. Directed by Frank McDonald (who mostly worked in "B" films) and with an original screenplay by Albert DeMond, the film has Torchy getting the scoop on the disappearance of Marvin Spencer (Kenneth Harlan), owner of the Bon Ton Department Store. It's Torchy who discovers that Spencer has been murdered before all the other reporters and before the police. When a suspect is arrested and put on trial, Torchy has her doubts about who really killed Spencer. Like many "B" films, the plot was recycled from an "A" picture. In this case, it had been made before as Front Page Woman (1935), starring Bette Davis.
In the cast were old reliable supporting players like Donald Briggs and former boxer Tom Kennedy, who played McBride's dim-witted assistant Gahagan. Also in the film was a very young Carole Landis, playing a department store model. Landis was at the beginning of her career and was often used by the studio to play small roles. She would find stardom a few years later at Twentieth Century-Fox.
The Torchy Blane films were cheap second features that would play with more expensive "A" films, moving along at a lightning-fast pace and coming in at around one hour total running time. Glenda Farrell also worked lightning-fast, as Warner Bros. often had her working in four films, "A's" and "B's" simultaneously. Farrell and her co-star, Barton MacLane, might have been the stars of the Torchy Blane series, but in "A" pictures, they played supporting roles.
Blondes at Work was just a blip on the film critics' radar when it was released on February 5, 1938, with Daily Variety plainly dismissing it. "Her amazing reportorial skill will make working newspapermen writhe but will make no diff at the box office to the non-enlightened public."
After four films, Farrell and MacLane took a break from the series later in the year, being replaced by Lola Lane and Paul Kelly in Torchy Blane in Panama (1938), before returning for three more films. When Glenda Farrell chose not to renew her contract with Warner Bros., the last film in the series, Torchy Blane...Playing with Dynamite (1939) starred Jane Wyman and Allen Jenkins.
By Richard Harland Smith
Sources: Backer, Ron Mystery Movie Series of 1930s Hollywood Beifuss, John Oh Boy, What a Story! - The 'Torchy Blane Collection' Is Now on DVD Good, Howard Girl Reporter: Gender, Journalism and the Movies The Internet Movie Database Paris, James Robert and Leonard, William T. Hollywood Players, the Thirties Torchy Blane http://www.thrillingdetective.com/torchy.html
Blondes at Work
Onscreen credits use the phrase "The Adventures of Torchy Blane" after the title. The plot of this film bears a strong resemblance to the 1935 Warner Bros.' film Front Page Woman (above) and to the 1937 Warner Bros.' film Back in Circulation (below). For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and for Smart Blonde.