My Favorite Brunette is a 1947 American romantic comedy film and film noir parody, directed by Elliott Nugent and starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. Written by Edmund Beloin and Jack Rose, the film is about a baby photographer on death row in San Quentin State Prison who tells reporters his history. While taking care of his private-eye neighbor’s office, he is asked by an irresistible baroness to find a missing baron, which initiates a series of confusing but sinister events in a gloomy mansion and a private sanatorium. Spoofing movie detectives and the film noir style, the film features Lon Chaney, Jr. playing Willie, a character based on his Of Mice and Men role Lennie; Peter Lorre as Kismet, a comic take on his many film noir roles; and cameo appearances by film noir regular Alan Ladd and Hope partner Bing Crosby. Sequences were filmed in San Francisco and Pebble Beach, California.
The story is told in flashback from Death Row as Ronnie Jackson (Bob Hope) relates to a group of reporters the events that lead to his murder conviction. Jackson is a San Francisco baby photographer who dreams about being a real private detective like his office neighbor Sam McCloud (Alan Ladd). One day he is mistaken for a detective by mysterious lady in distress Carlotta Montay (Dorothy Lamour), who claims that her wheelchair-bound husband was kidnapped at the pier as they arrived from overseas. A sinister figure (Lorre) listens at the office door. Carlotta gives Ronnie her address, and a coded map. Ronnie hides the map in the cups next to his office water cooler. Ronnie then drives to the address, which is a mansion down the Peninsula. Kismet (Peter Lorre) greets him at the door. Carlotta tells Ronnie that the missing man is her uncle, not her husband. He entered the country on some secret mission, she says. The mansion belongs to Major Montague, she says, who was a former partner of her uncle. Major Montague enters the room, and calls Carlotta away for a phone call. Major Montague also believes that Ronnie is a private detective, as he had Kismet follow him from the office. When Carlotta is out of the room, Montague tells Ronnie that Carlotta is mentally ill. He introduces Ronnie to a wheelchair-bound man in the next room as Carlotta’s uncle, who tells Ronnie that he obviously has not been kidnapped. Ronnie tells Montague that Carlotta had given him a map to hold. Carlotta reenters the room, and when alone with Ronnie, tells him that the call was from her uncle, who told her he was safe. “He was forced to make that call”, opines Carlotta. Now she suspects Montague, because he lied to Ronnie about her. She tells him to guard the map with his life.
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