Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Smart Girls Don't Talk

I'm always amazed by how many movies there are from the golden era of the Hollywood studio system that I hadn't really heard of before the showed up on TCM, let alone seen. A few months back, TCM ran a Virginia Mayo movie from Warner Bros. called Smart Girls Don't Talk. I recently finally got around to watching it off of my DVR in order to be able to do a review on it here.

The action opens up at the Club Bermuda, a relatively fashionable place in one of our big cities run by Marty Fain (Bruce Bennett). The only thing is, the club allows gambling, so several men come in, a gang led by a man named Johnny Warjak. When the maitre d' asks for their reservation, they say they don't need one, and proceed to go in and rob the place, taking cash and patrons' jewelry much like the gang in Uptown Saturday Night.

Fain doesn't really want to get the police involved, since he wants to maintain his reputation. To that end, he asks the patrons to inform them of what they lost, and he'd reimburse them. Not that he's planning to reimburse everybody, of course, since he knows some people are going to try to scam him. One guy, for example, claims to have had $10,000 in cash on him. Fain takes the money off the guys gambling debt, but then cuts the guy off and demands payment of the outstanding debt in short order. Smart guy.

Meanwhile, one or Fain's men recognized Warjak, so Fain approves of his underlings trying to follow Warjak and his men to get the goods back. But no violence, please. The underlings need to remember that Fain wants to keep his good name and keep out of the papers if at all possible. But it's a bit of fairly obvious foreshadowing that things aren't going to go the way Fain wants.

And then there's Linda Vickers (Virginia Mayo). She says she was wearing diamonds worth $18,000, which is a huge sum for the late 1940s, and you have to wonder where she got that kind of money. Fain doesn't believe her, but she's a nice-looking woman so Fain plays along. When Linda says she's got an insurance policy for the jewels, Fain insists that she take him back to her apartment and produce the policy immediately. Not a bad way to try to get into a hot woman's apartment.

But in some more obvious foreshadowing, they get to the front of the club only for the valet to inform them that Linda's car isn't readily available, the excuse being that due to the popularity of the club that night, Linda's was one of the cars that needed to be moved to an auxiliary lot. Smart readers will already know what's going on, but for anyone who hasn't figured it out, the story doesn't take that long to put two and two together.

The next morning, police detective McReady knows on Linda's door. The newspaper headling informs that Warjak was shot dead, and that a "mystery car" went driving off. The police have information that her car was found abandoned, so it's a logical next step for them to go asking Linda if she has any information she can provide them, such as her whereabouts at the time of the killing.

There's not much mystery here, but the movie gets more complicated when Linda's brother, "Doc" (Robert Hutton), having finished medical school, returns to town to be closer to family and take a nice new doctor's job. Of course he doesn't like the idea of Linda seeing Fain. But when Fain gets shot, he asks for Dr. Vickers to provide emergency treatment so that the police don't find out....

Once again, it's not hard to see why Smart Girls Don't Talk is one of those movies that isn't well-remembered. It's not that it's at all bad; it's just that it's a programmer from after the war when the studio system was already beginning to give way from the old paradigm, with prestige movies becoming bigger and little movies becoming a bit more overlooked. Still, everything here is competent, if a bit by-the-numbers if the studio was trying to churn out content the way studios would really need to start doing in a couple of years once television really took off.

No comments: