Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday's Favorite OTR

Miss Pinkerton: “The Bentley Emerald” 7/21/41?

Miss Pinkerton was never a regular series—this episode—meant to be the pilot-- is probably the only one ever produced and I’m not sure if it ever actually aired.

But a recording of that single episode has survived, which is a good thing. Miss Pinkerton starred Joan Blondell as Mary Vance, a young law student who inherits a detective agency in New York City. She travels to the city, intending to sell the agency. But—not surprisingly—she ends up working on a case. Soon, she’s attending a high-society party, intending to guard a valuable emerald from thieves.

This brings her into conflict with Dennis Murray, a cop who works the “society beat” and who thinks Mary is completely unqualified for this sort of work. This doesn’t, though, stop him from trying to hit on her a few time.

Anyway, things start to move fast when Mary improvises a plan to steal the emerald herself just before a pair of real thieves get their hand on it. From there, she continues to improvise, tricking the thieves into taking her to see their fence—the real mastermind behind the stolen jewel ring.

All this almost gets her killed, but Murray (helped by “Bingo,” a big galut of an operative who works for the Vance agency) manages to do some quick police work himself and shows up just in time to save the day.

When Murray insists that the detective life isn’t for her, she gets her back up and decides to remain on the job to prove herself.

It’s an entertaining half-hour. Blondell and Dick Powell (who plays Murray) play well against each other and their proto-Moonlighting banter is fun to listen to. The plot is well-constructed and it’s especially interesting in that you can see both Mary’s and Murray’s point-of-view. Despite her inexperience, Mary doesn’t do half-bad and really does help track down the bad guys. But Murray is correct in pointing out that she almost got herself killed. A combination of good chemistry between the lead characters and a script that allows both of them to act intelligently makes the story work both as a comedy and a mystery. It’s too bad Miss Pinkerton didn’t get a chance to stick around for awhile.

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