There’s Always a Woman (1939) Alexander Hall

There always is blondoug

    “There’s Always a Woman”, is pretty much a forgotten film in Joan Blondell’s filmography. Made for Columbia in 1938, the film is a less sophisticated “Thin Man” variation with Blondell and Melvyn Douglas as the husband and wife detective team. The film won’t make you forget Nick and Nora or even Jean Arthur and William Powell in “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford”; still it is a fun light weight movie.

    What’s make the film most enjoyable is Joan Blondell, who on loan to Columbia, is out of her sassy, smart aleck Warner’s Brother mode and into a more Carole Lombard/Jean Arthur type, though there may be a little Gracie Allen tossed in too.   The snooping couple are Sally and Bill Reardon who are going broke operating a detective agency due to a lack of clients. William, a former Assistant D.A. decides to go running back to get his old job when the bills begin to pile up too high. Sally meanwhile, is determined to make the private eye business a success and stumbles onto a client, Lola Fraser (Mary Astor, another tie to The Thin Man) who suspects an affair is going on between her husband and his former fiancée (Frances Drake). Lola’s advance practically wipes their debits off the books. The remainder of the story involves the comical sleuthing of the Reardon’s trying to track down the murderer of a double homicide.

Theres always a woman still   The script and the jokes are rather thin though Blondell confirms to all that she is a wonderful comedienne. She’s excellent in a scene when the police are interrogating her under a harsh light and the only ones to show a strain from the interrogation are the police while Joan remains as perky as the moment she walked in.  My biggest problem with the film is the treatment Sally receives from her husband, which is a bit troubling unless you think pulling your wife’s hair or making gestures that you are going to smack her for “disobeying” you are the stuff of yucks. Bill Reardon comes across as an archaic Neanderthal who only wants his wife home, cooking with those pots and pans in the kitchen, and not meddling in a murder investigation though in the end she is partially responsible for solving the case.

   Alexander Hall, who keeps things moving at a nice pace directed the film that was based on a short story by Wilson Collison. Columbia’s original plan was for this to be the first in a series, however it only resulted in one sequel in 1939, “There’s That Woman, Again” with Douglas reprising his role, however with Virginia Bruce replacing Blondell. The film opened at Radio City Music Hall in April of 1938 to moderate business. Look for Rita Hayworth in a bit part as a secretary to an attorney.

8 comments on “There’s Always a Woman (1939) Alexander Hall

  1. Dave says:

    Blondell is a blind spot for me. Interesting to hear that there were such obvious spin offs from The Thin Man though… I honestly knew nothing of this one before reading your piece here. This sounds like one that is worth watching if you can catch it on TCM, but not necessarily worth searching for.

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  2. John Greco says:

    Dave- Blondell is a favorite of mine, especially in her pre-code films. About a month of so ago TCM ran three or four lessor known films with Blondell of which this is one. I have got a few others still on my DVR waiting to be watched. You right though about it being worth seeing but no searching out.

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  3. Judy says:

    I like Blondell too and this sounds like fun to watch, although the domestic violence element sounds rather cringe-making from your description.I love that picture on the stairs with the yellow dress.

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    • John Greco says:

      It is a light fun film thatfor me, Blondell highlighted.
      the domestic violence element is all implied in what is suppose to be a light and humorous matter. It was probably somewhat acceptable at the time but it is certainly dated and not, at least to me, humorous.

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  4. Mary at the movies says:

    I was finally glad to see someone else saw the rough treatment of Joan Blondel (who was pregnant at the time) in the female lead. This is more than humorous slap stick by any means. If tables had been turned, the male lead would not have been treated in this manner. Ms. Blondel is slapped, shook, hair pulled, and dumped off a bead onto the floor very roughly, to mention a few. I began to wonder would she be murdered by the hands of her husband before it was over. Did the lead male actor not like the lead female actor? The second film in this short series did not have that level of intensity toward the female lead.. I did overall enjoy seeing Joan B. I have watched this film several times.

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    • John Greco says:

      The treatment Blondell receives is sadly played for yucks. It was not uncommon in those days. In Nothing Sacred, a much better film, a Carole Lombard gets the rough treatment too. Unacceptable behavior today.

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  5. John Greco says:

    No problem. I always try to respond.

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