Manhandled starring Dorothy Lamour………. hmmmmm.
Sure sounds like 1949’s exploitation title of the year.
Next question to be asked is in what manner of speaking is she being manhandled? Is it of a sexual nature or more in line with bullying and being pushed around?
When Dan Duryea turns up then we should all know it’s going to be the ladder. “Hello kitten. What’s the matter, don’t you like me?” Now that’s classic Dan Duryea.
This Paramount production proved to be Dorothy’s final film of the decade and in reality it’s the end of her most productive period as her film appearances became more sporadic in the coming years. This Lewis R. Foster directed feature takes a Noir styled thriller and injects it with a touch of comedy throughout the proceedings that really should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Alan Napier is having nightmares of murdering his wife. He tells his analyst his problems and his fears are recorded by stenographer Miss Lamour. Napier’s wife is a rather loose woman about town and loves to flaunt her hundred thousand dollars worth of jewelry. Napier is going broke and would like nothing better than to sell the valuable rocks.
It seems Lamour has a so-called boyfriend back at her apartment building. It’s Duryea. It sounds like he’s more interested in getting her to disclose some of the information about Napier and the jewelry than he is in romancing her. Setting this murder mystery on it’s way, Napier finds his wife (Irene Hervey) murdered in the fashion he dreams about and the gems stolen.
Enter insurance investigator Sterling Hayden. He teams with a bumbling detective played by Art smith who one would assume has been added in for comedy relief. When the trail leads to the analyst and eventually Dorothy, Hayden takes one look at her and begins mixing inquisitive questions with romance. Naturally Duryea pops up and as he’s a former cop and now part time private eye, he too joins in trying to crack the case. Dorothy’s main problem is that Duryea seems to be directing a lot of the clues in her direction.
Is Dorothy to be the “fall girl.”
As the title suggests, Dan is going to be smacking Dorothy around as he tries to pin the murder and the stolen gems at her doorstep. He’s fun to watch but eventually overplays his hand in front of Hayden and Smith. Still there is more to the mystery that I am not divulging and an ironic twist just may be in store for our would be killer at the fadeout.
Taking a break from her roles opposite Bob and Bing in their various on screen adventures, this outing allowed Dorothy to appear in the genre of Noir and back alley murders opposite two of it’s most appealing leading men. Edith Head was still called in to service as Miss Lamour’s costume designer though the clothing is far less glamorous then many of the musicals from years past.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Dorothy with the railroading she’s getting from Duryea and as she pointed out in her autobiography My Side of the Road, “I was to be smacked around by Dan Duryea who then tries to push me off a rooftop.” Lamour gets a very rough going over which leads to the perfect title for this release.
Of note in a minor unbilled role is Keye Luke working a dry cleaning store that Hayden goes to as he follows up a lead.
Best exchange in the film…..
Detective Art Smith on the stolen jewels, “You mean to tell me a woman wore all that junk on her at one time?”
Hayden in his classic dead pan delivery responds, “Well it’s disgusting but true.”
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