Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Navy officer Peter Duluth, on a 36-hour leave, meets his wife Iris in Los Angeles; they got married a year ago but there was no time for a honeymoon, so now on their first anniversary, they're looking for a hotel room where they can catch up on lost time, so to speak. All the hotels are booked solid, but a young woman named Miss Rose, who is leaving town to elope, takes pity on the couple and lets them use her room while she's gone. Unfortunately, a weekend of casual canoodling is not in the cards: first, people who see Iris keep thinking she looks like a puppeteer named Mona who, it turns out, is a cousin of Iris's; later, a drunk comes up to Iris and warns her that she's in danger because "the white rose and the red rose are out." Then when Peter goes to a steambath to ward off a cold, his uniform is stolen. He meets up with a detective named Hatch who agrees to help them figure out what's going on, but they soon discover that Mona is dead, and red and white roses are found in her apartment. By the time Peter and Iris get tangled up with a strange drunken man they nickname The Beard and two more women who seem targeted by the roses killer, they realize they're up to their necks in trouble. 

This pleasant B-mystery is based on a novel by Patrick Quentin (a pen name for two writers, one of whom, Hugh Wheeler, went on to co-write the musical Sweeney Todd) who wrote a series of Peter Duluth books. (A later book was turned into a movie with Ginger Rogers called BLACK WIDOW but the characters' last names were changed to Denver.) I'm sorry there were no more in this series because for a low-budget film, this is fast-moving and fun, like an episode of Remington Steele. Warren Douglas and Audrey Long work together well as Peter and Iris, with Douglas in particular doing a nice job of looking like he just wants to get Long alone in a hotel room and screw—at heart this is a comedy of delayed sexual consummation, like MY FAVORITE WIFE. The colorful supporting cast includes Lloyd Corrigan as The Beard—who turns out to be a criminologist—and Grant Withers as Hatch. There's also a helpful cab driver who calls himself an "amateur psychoanalyzer." The identity of the killer was a total surprise to me.  A short, sweet, light thriller.  [Netflix streaming]

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