Hoodlum Saint, a rather worthless William Powell flick that he somehow got suckered into making. The script appears to have been written by committee, by several committees, none of them on speaking terms, and Powell and a good cast of character actors–Frank McHugh, James Gleason, and Angela Lansbury among them–are totally wasted on insipid dialog, silly gags and plots twists so random that if you leave the room for a minute and come back you’d think that someone changed the channel and found another William Powell movie you’d never seen before. Powell is stuck with Esther Williams as his lead, a hopeless mismatch for an actor used to sparring with Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow. Not only is it hard to tell how he’d be hopelessly drawn to her–hell, she never even swims–but you can tell he’s going easy on the repartee, slowing down so she can keep up. Oddest of all is the role of Angela Lansbury, who probably a few dozen rewrites ago had been a saucy, purring femme fatale but now was a saloon singer sleeping with William Powell. Powell is all set to break the news of he and Esther’s impending nuptials to Angela but Esther insists on meeting her first. They go to the nightclub. Angela is singing. Bill and Esther sit down at a table. He orders champagne cocktails. She has milk, with a straw. (OK, she has a cocktail.) Angela finishes her song and joins them. You have a beautiful voice, Esther says. Angela purrs “Thanks, but that’s all his doing–deep in the throat.” I stare. Blink. Blink. “Resonance”, she adds. Though there’s not a chance in hell that people in 1946 didn’t think what I thought. Hell, there’d been a war on. Lauren Bacall telling Bogie it depends who’s in the saddle. Besides, that was the best line of the movie. It was all downhill from there. And it had all been downhill till then too. Thought I’d never see a William Powell film I couldn’t recommend if only because William Powell was in it. I was wrong. Skip it.
OK, that’s enough writing today, the fog settles in.