I Love Trouble (1948): Hot-jive noir

I Love Trouble (1948)

This is one-helluva-movie.  A gem that sparkles like the eyes of the hot dames that swagger, pout, smolder, and snap their high heels across the screen. A joyous LA romp in Marlowe territory which has it all. An enthralling thriller plot  enlivened by a hot-jive script from Roy Huggins (Too Late for Tears, Pushover). Incredibly taught and fluid direction from Columbia b-director S. Sylvan Simon.  Superb noir photography from Charles Lawton Jr.  A dynamic score from George Duning that sways effortlessly from dark melodrama to lecherous winks.

I Love Trouble (1948)

A great turn by Franchot Tone as LA private eye Stuart ‘George’ Bailey, who out-Bogart’s and out-Powell’s Philip Marlowe in a deliciously convoluted story of deception, greed, frame-ups, murder, and sexy high jinks. Bit player Glenda Farrell is a comic delight as Bailey’s cute, loyal, eccentric, and sharp-as-nails secretary Hazel.  Tom Powers delivers a solid performance as the aging suspicious husband who hires Bailey to tail his young wife, who is being blackmailed. Steven Geray delivers a nuanced low-key performance as mysterious crime-boss Keller, and John Ireland, Raymond Burr, and Eddie Marr are great as Keller’s heavies. Sid Tomack is in his element as a small-time chiseller who is out of his league. The dames are all delightfully buxom good-bad girls, with enough charm and innuendo for a dozen Marlowes: Janet Blair, Janis Carter, Adele Jergens, Lynn Merrick, and Claire Carleton.  A weird waitress-from-hell played by uncredited bit-player Roseanne Murray, is a scream.

I Love Trouble (1948)

There are laughs and smooth-as-nylons repartee, but the melodrama is hard-hitting and typically noir: guys get slapped hard, drugged, and slugged from behind. In one scene the face of a murder victim under a Malibu pier is highlighted by torch-light at night.  A particularly impressive scene is where a guy is under the threat of a gun, which is shown from the holder’s viewpoint, as it moves with the frightened target as he staggers backward and across the screen in a small room.

I Love Trouble (1948)

What is particularly captivating is the on-street location-shooting that gives the whole picture a verite-look.  From daylight scenes in the streets of LA to available light scenes at night in dives, suburban streets, and dark alleys in industrial areas. There is one daylight road scene where Bailey is being followed by another car, and he manoeuvres his car to dramatically confront his pursuer, and then gives chase. The positioning of the camera and the elegant panning as each car careens across the screen make the sequence one of the most exciting I have seen.

A must-see noir.  Sadly not yet available on DVD.

18 thoughts on “I Love Trouble (1948): Hot-jive noir”

  1. Hi! Tony,

    What a very interesting, concise and honest review…“as usual”..”spitting” out your words like “The Mick” as in Spillane.…Wow!..Tony, I’am “blushing” such nouns, such verbs and such adjective?!?, 😕 😆 lol

    I guess that you have to use such words as the ones that you, have used here when describing such a “hard hitting” film noir as…“I Love Trouble.”…Speaking of trouble… that affiche de film, did stir up a “little trouble” a couple of years ago at NoirCity. Due to fact, that some thought that actress Janet Blair, blouse was too “flimsy.”

    Personally, I still don’t understand why it (The affiche de film) caused such a controversy?! 😕
    Because that affiche de film, don’t appear to be so “shocking” to me at least!…(shrug shoulders) :/ (Testing)

    Tony said,”A must-see noir. Sadly not yet available on DVD.”
    Right you are, but I do own a copy of this film (Thanks, to 1 of the 4 men who(m) supply me with films that are considered film noir(s) and believe me…it’s in “dire” need of a “serious” upgrade!

    Take care!
    Dcd 😉


  2. Well I was excited Dcd! I love that poster – it is so evocative of the movie. Yes the print I saw was on the verge of falling apart. The need to raid the Columbia vaults is dire. I can’t understand why such a great movie is still not available on a studio DVD.


  3. Hi! Tony,

    Tony said,”I can’t understand why such a great movie is still not available on a studio DVD.”

    I’am quite sure that “you” know why the studio haven’t released this film,(and others films that are considered film noir in their vaults on dvd…)
    but the No#1 reason(s) that I have “overheard” over the last 2 and 1/2 years (from some film noir aficionados) since becoming a “noiraholic” are…

    #1.Is there enough public interest out there to generate sales? The-powers-that-be of course, don’t want to print-out 100s or 1000s of copies of this films and then when it comes to sales will the public purchase this title?

    #2.Copyright Issues: Behind the curtain “wrangling” between the-powers-that-be and family members, and copyright@ estate holders.

    (Such as the case with the 20th Century Fox 1947 film Boomerang. which seems to have been “resolved” for now, but I’am quite sure there are other “reasons” beyond the 2 reasons that I just stated which prevent this and other titles that are considered film noir(s) that “lovers” of “film noir” would one day love to see be restored, and released (with bonus extras), but of course! on dvd.
    Take Care!
    Dcd 😉


  4. Hi! Tony,

    “Warner Bros. is opening its vault — which contains more than 5,000 films never made available on DVD — to home viewers.
    Starting today, consumers can order 150 classic Warner movies for $19.95 each at new studio site WarnerArchive.com. The studio will ship a made-to-order DVD, in a shrink-wrapped case with cover art, to consumers within five days of purchase.”

    I just hope that they (WB)open their “vault” and release more films that are considered noir.
    Because of the 150 films that were released about 2 or 3 😕 of the titles are considered film noir.
    At least, I considered them film noirs.
    (The other remaining 147 titles covers films from the 20S 30s 50s, and 60s and are silents, dramas and musicals.)methinks! 😕
    Dcd 😉


  5. I have not seen this film, but I very much appreciate the dapper Franchot Tone, and I am a huge fan of composer George Dunning, particular for his scores for PICNIC and THE WORLD OF SUSIE WONG. Of course, he is also the composer of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and ALL THE KING’S MEN, among others.
    Tone, incidentally, apart from his celebrated film work (MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is perhaps his most famous film), also starred in a great TWILIGHT ZONE episode, “The Silence,” where he dazzles as a men’s club charletan.
    As far as this unseen film, as always the on-location photography, the ‘cinema verite’ look and Charles Lawton Jr’s cinematography all make this as you say a must see (when Tony D’Ambra says something is “one helluva movie” it’s time to act) And I am intrigued by that quip that bit player Rosanne Murray is “a scream.”

    I must say that all Dee Dee’s posts above about the Warner Brothers vaults continues to excite me.

    I am assuming THIS one will be available then?

    A great review, enhanced by your contagious enthusiasm.


  6. Thanks for your post Sam. Franchot Tone is indeed smooth and revels in the insouciance of his role. I hope I have conveyed at least some of this movie’s energy and infectiousness.

    Interesting to read the info on George Dunning. The World of Suzie Wong is one of my first cinematic memories. I saw the movie on the big screen with my parents when I was 7yo – and after nearly 50 years – and not ever having seen the movie again – still have indelible memories of it. Nancy Kwan was my first film crush! And William Holden was the kind of guy I wanted to grow up to be…


  7. That’s really something Tony about SUZIE WONG bringing back memories like that! Amazing! I could definitely understand Kwan being a crush and no dobt Holden was admired at that impressionable age. But the music in that film (I own the terrific Film Score Monthly CD) is gorgeous.

    You absolutely succeeded admirably in conveying I LOVE TROUBLE’s unique infectious qualities in this stellar review.


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