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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Classic Film Review: Double Dynamite (1951)

Double Dynamite stars Frank Sinatra as bank teller Johnny Dalton who desperately wants to marry Mildred 'Mibs' Goodhue (Jane Russell). Unfortunately, he believes they can't afford it and Mibs storms off. On his way back to work Johnny stops a bookie being beat up by his rivals. The bookie rewards him by putting some money on a horse for him and soon Johnny finds himself with more money than he could possibly dream of. However, when he gets back to the bank he learns they've discovered a shortfall in the accounts and he'll be prime suspect, unable to prove he got the money from the bookie. He turns to his friend Emile J. Keck (Groucho Marx) for help but it all gets very messy.

Frank Sinatra's at his wholesome stage here, playing the same kind of role he played in Anchors Aweigh (1945) and On the Town (1949) (incidentally, this one was filmed in 1948 but held back from release). He plays the uncertain and anxious Johnny well enough, particularly when he's bouncing off Marx as Emile. Marx himself is excellent, stealing every scene.

My problem, surprisingly, was with Jane Russell. She was completely miscast. The character was weak and soppy for the most part without the attitude and humour I associate with Russell roles. She might've been billed first but it's easy to see this was a Sinatra vehicle and Russell didn't have much to get her teeth into until the last fifteen minutes or so.

The plot itself is flimsy and it only contains two songs but 'Kisses and Tears', the duet between Sinatra and Russell (see below) is quite good. Without the presence of Groucho Marx, though, I suspect this film would be much less enjoyable than it is.

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