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DOUBLE DYNAMITE (director: Irving Cummings; screenwriters: Mannie Manheim/Harry Crane/Melville Shavelson/story by Leo Rosten; cinematographer: Robert de Grasse; editor: Harry Marker; music: Leigh Harline; cast: Jane Russell (Mildred ‘Mibs’ Goodhue), Groucho Marx (Emile J. Keck), Frank Sinatra (Johnny Dalton), Don McGuire (Bob Pulsifer Jr.), Howard Freeman (R.B. Pulsifer Sr.), Nestor Paiva (‘Hot Horse’ Harris, the Bookie), Harry Hayden (J.L. McKissack), Frank Orth (Mr. Kofer); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Cummings; RKO Pictures; 1951)
“Only bearable because of a few trademark Groucho Marx quips.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Irving Cummings directs a rather flat comedy farce taken from a Leo Rosten story, that is only bearable because of a few trademark Groucho Marx quips. Though Frank Sinatra was the star, he received third billing due to a feud he had with RKO boss Howard Hughes. The film was shot in 1948 but remained on the shelf until its 1951 release.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

Johnny Dalton (Frank Sinatra) and Mildred ‘Mibs’ Goodhue (Jane Russell) are bank tellers at a California bank owned by R.B. Pulsifer Sr. (Howard Freeman), who is semi-retired. The bank president is J.L. McKissack, who turns down Johnny’s request for a raise on his $42.50 a week salary. Johnny needs more money to marry Mibs, who is in love with Johnny but is being pursued by the boss’s wolfish Yale grad son Bob Pulsifer Jr. (Don McGuire). Emile J. Keck (Groucho Marx) is the eccentric waiter in the Italian restaurant where the couple dines, who encourages Johnny to be daring and get married even if he’s broke. When Johnny is walking back to work after lunch, he spots a guy getting beat up and helps the vic avoid a beating by jumping on the two goons. It turns out that he helped the bookie ‘Hot Horse’ Harris (Nestor Paiva) fend off the thugs sent by his rival bookie, and in appreciation for Johnny’s heroics gives the reluctant hero a reward of $1,000 and then bets that on horses he has tips on. Johnny ends up winning $60,000 and rushes to tell Mibs they can now marry, but the bank discovers they are $75,000 short and suspect Johnny is an embezzler. The plot line only gets worst, as Keck helps Johnny avoid detection by the bonding company detectives by using the bookie money to pose as a millionaire and open an account in the bank. Keck becomes friends with the bank founder and they discover the money wasn’t embezzled but erroneously reported due to a mechanical error in Mildred’s calculator. An explanation that was not only incredible but downright insulting to the viewer’s intelligence. When both tellers are cleared of the charges they get married, quit their jobs and go partners with Keck in owning an orange farm.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”