Berkeley Makes Mom Proud, No Chorus Girls In This Picture
“Say!” The actors say that a lot in Fast and Furious (1939) because it’s a beauty pageant mystery, and clues and bathing beauties keep catching the characters off-guard. It’s funny, though, that they should be caught off-guard, since nothing is so surprising as how predictable everything is. It’s sort of a Gold Diggers Dick Powell movie meet a Murder, My Sweet Dick Powell movie, but without Dick Powell. How director Busby Berekley resisted Kandinsky-esque formations of bathing beauties is beyond me—perhaps it is because the girls hardly figure in the picture at all. Perhaps a conversation between Ann Southern and her detective/husband Franchot Tone says it all about the movie. She: “Don’t reproach yourself for that, darling. It wasn’t your fault.” He: “No, but it’s a rotten feeling anyway.”
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.