Fast Company/Fast and Loose/Fast and Furious Triple Feature
(USDVD release date: )
Now on demand from Warner Archive is a triple-feature about the little-known sleuthing couple of Joel and Garda Sloane, played by different actors in every outing.
The Sloanes, created by novelist Marco Page, are a transparent response to Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man series (also produced by MGM). In case we don’t get it, the trailer for the first film makes the comparison twice. These amateur investigators have an unusual set-up. They’re rare book dealers and their cases involve valuable insurance frauds, lost Shakespeare manuscripts, and the like. Under the handsome covers, however, the Sloanes are cheap imitations complete with hangovers and constant brittle banter, which would be fine if all that repartee was terribly witty or the whodunits were interesting.
The most interesting thing about the mystery in Fast Company is that the victims are played by George Zucco and Dwight Frye, better known for their horror roles. Melvyn Douglas and Florence Rice play the gay couple in this one, getting much mileage out of a teasing opening scene rife with sophisticated sexual harassment until they finally mention they’re married instead of boss and secretary.
Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell might seem better casting in Fast and Loose (actually we’d like to have seen Douglas with Russell, patricians both), but the missus is even more of a bystander here while hubby has all the fun. This time the victim is Frank Morgan, too briefly seen, and another corpse is revealed in a manner more whimsical than credible.
These first two unprepossessing entries were helmed by studio hacks Edward Buzzell and Edward L. Marin, respectively. MGM gave it one more try with Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern in Fast and Furious, directed by…Busby Berkeley? Yes, and there are even bathing beauties and one brief underwater swimming sequence in this tale of a beauty contest. For the first time, the plot has nothing to do with books, and the mystery comes close to being unpredictable when the plot gets around to it. Alas, the usually likeable Sothern is forced to impersonate a jealous shrill shrew more tiresome than amusing.