Saturday, March 2, 2024

Don't Bet on Blondes

I've posted quite often how I think Warner Bros. tended to have the best B movies. They're breezy, and often so much fun. One that I recorded because it sounded like a fun plot was Don't Bet on Blondes. Having watched it, I wasn't wrong in my presumption.

The movie starts off with a montage of sporting events, with newspapers informing us how "Odds" Owen (Warren William) sets odds on each of them. He's good at what he does, but since sports betting may not be quite legal, there are always bettors looking to scam the oddsmakers. One such cas occurs when a man comes in looking to put $2500 on a 20-1 shot in a big horse race. When the horse wins, Odds will have to pay out $50K. Except that he figures the bet was placed by the owner of the horse, who had engaged in blood doping. Don't cash the ticket, or Odds will reveal the truth.

Not long after that, Odds reads about Lloyds of London, and how they underwrite insurance policies against all sorts of oddball things. When he asks one of his assistants about this, he realizes that insurance and sports odds have a lot in common. Both of them involve analyzing data, seeing how much something has happened in the past, and then figuring out how likely something is going to happen in the future. It's also presumably more legal than sports books, although a lot more regulated.

But with that in mind, Odds decides he might just get out of the sport book game and get into being the American who sells the policies for the wacky events. (One running joke involves insuring the vocal cords of a champion husband-caller, played by character actress Maude Eburne.) In addition to being lucrative, it also brings Odds a lot of more positive publicity.

And then looking for an insurance policy is Col. Youngblood (Guy Kibbee). He's the grandson of a General Youngblood, who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. He's also one of those believers in the "lost cause", thinking that the South never really lost the civil war. And he's going to write a book to prove it. (I guess they had vanity presses even in the 1930s.) But he needs time to write that book, and time is money. He's getting his money from his daughter Mariliyn (Claire Dodd), a prominent actress and also frequently in the papes for her choice of date partners. If she gets married, she's going to retire from the stage, and where would that leave Col. Youngblood? So Youngblood wants to take a policy out that his daughter doesn't get married for another three years.

Odds takes the policy, and then sets about making certain that whoever dates Marilyn once is not going to date her a second time, lest he get ideas about marrying Marilyn. Odds also takes a personal enough interest in the case that Marilyn sees him on more than one occasion. After the second or third time this happens (the date in question being played by Errol Flynn just before he became a star), Odds thinks that perhaps the best strategy is to start dating her himself, with the intention that he can string her along until the policy terms expire.

You can probably guess what happens next. One is that when Marilyn shows up at Odds' office, she happens to see her father paying the premium on an insurance policy, not that she knows what it's about. The other more obvious thing is that Odds begins to find himself falling in love with Marilyn.

Don't Bet on Blondes is predictable, but Warner Bros. was good at making this sort of movie. It's also well cast, with Warren William being suave enough for the lead, and all of the character actors doing well. It only runs 59 minutes, but it doesn't feel too short. So if you can find Don't Bet on Blondes, bet on it being entertaining.

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