|Ann Sothern and Franchot Tone|
When Gerda Sloane (Ann Sothern), the wife of bookseller and amateur sleuth Joel Sloane (Franchot Tone), is told by him that the two are taking a vacation, she doesn't know that he's put money in a bathing beauty contest occurring in the resort town of Seaside City (read: Atlantic City). As Gerda runs interference for the occasionally amorous beauties, Joel investigates the murder of the contest's promoter, Eric Bartell (John Miljan). The suspects include his girlfriend, Lily (Ruth Hussey of The Uninvited); his other girlfriend, Jerry (Mary Beth Hughes of Men On Her Mind); Sloane's old friend, Mike Stevens (Lee Bowman of Up in Mabel's Room); and others. Fast and Furious was the debut and apparently the one and only entry in this bid for an aborted mystery series a la The Thin Man, but it's mediocre enough that there were never any sequels. Sothern and Tone make good leads -- Tone is somewhat better and has more aplomb at this than his co-star does -- but even Tone, good as he is, can't compete with William Powell. The business about a wife getting all hot and bothered because her husband is judging a beauty contest was to be repeated ad nauseum in various movies and TV shows, and had probably been done even before 1939. Harry Kurnitz' script has few laughs aside from a very funny bit involving some lions, and there is at least one very suspenseful scene when our couple are caught underneath a descending stage elevator, nearly crushing them. Otherwise, this is forgettable.
Verdict: Not one of the classics of 1939. **.