The Girl in 313 (Ricardo Cortez, 1940)
The Girl in 313 is ultimately unsure of what kind of movie it wants to be, which makes it weaker than it would have otherwise been. Which is not to say it’s in any way a bad movie; it’s quite good, and well worth your time, a now-overlooked gem that manages to almost successfully mix comedy, noir, and romance into one tasty stew. They might have managed a bit better playing it as a straight noir, or as a comedy-noir, or a noir romance, or… you know. But what we got is still well above average.
Joan Matthews (Fast Company‘s Florence Rice) is a policewoman who goes deep undercover to break a jewel-smuggling ring, where she’s romanced by a suave smuggler (The Mighty Gorga‘s Kent Taylor) while trying to work her way into the good graces of the ring’s leader (the always wonderful Lionel Atwill). There’s a great subplot surrounding the maid (It’s a Wonderful Life‘s Mary Treen) in the apartment building where she’s taken a room (313, natch) jumping to all sorts of conclusions based on… well, nothing, really, and getting her cop brother involved, that provides a hefty dose of the movie’s humor.
Rice is dead-on perfect for this role, sassy and sultry while still putting out an air of innocence that’s instantly endearing. Her supporting cast are wonderful to a T, and, despite the screenwriters perhaps trying to work a few too many grenres into one film, they actually pulled it off with a pretty nice amount of panache. Well worth checking out if you get the chance (it appears on Netflix streaming once in a while). *** ½
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