Blog 15 Smart Talking Gals Part 3
Home Sweet Homicide, Nocturne, Tampico, Sleepers West, The Amazing Mr. X
Lynn Bari, of the apple cheeks, sweet but knowing smile, dark hair, and warm, throaty voice is one of my favorite smart-talking gals. Like some of the other females in this hall of cinematic fame, she could play a fourteen-karat stinker. Think of Sun Valley Serenade and Margie. Still, when she was on the side of the angels, with a little pitch fork to keep things hopping, she could be a great one to have in your corner. In Home Sweet Homicide, Bari plays an attractive widow with a brood of kids whom she supports through writing murder mysteries. When there’s a real murder on her block, the kids plot to solve it to get their mother publicity for her books and to match her up with police detective Randolph Scott. Lynn gets off some nifty quips while taking guff from no one, not even Randolph Scott (cue the celestial choir in Blazing Saddles). When he tries to imply she’s an inadequate mother who has raised a passel of overly imaginative, disingenuous children, she sets him straight without being the least flapped. First she smoothly calls him on his right to pass judgment with the smiling query, “How many children have you raised?” then puts a nifty finish on his criticism with this amused inquiry to his response, “Do you know anything about children, except what you read in books?” When he tries to offer evidence that her children aren’t telling the truth by recounting the unlikely stories they’ve given him about being born in Peru, China, and other foreign points, she affably reveals his need not to be bound by limited expectations with the information that she had traveled the world with her newspaper-man husband. She finishes with a show of her strength, adventurousness, and open mindedness by turning back his pity for her difficult life with the warmth in her eyes and words as she tells him, “It was heaven, and I wouldn’t have traded it for all the tea in China.”
In Tampico, Bari plays a survivor of a U-boat attack whom merchant marine captain Edward G. Robinson fishes out of the South Atlantic. After some nifty verbal exchanges, the two fall in love and marry. All is not peaches and cream after that, as Robinson is led to suspect Lynn of being a Nazi fiver. Is she? Would those big brown eyes and apple cheeks serve de Fuhrer? Watch the movie and find out.
The best of her smart-talking roles, though, is aspiring actress Frances Ransome, opposite police detective George Raft in Nocturne. Tough guy Raft is on his mettle to match her self-confidence and smooth but mordant wit. This gal is unflappable. When Raft demands of her, “Why did you kill him?” she shoots back nonchalantly, with a hint of a smile “Which one?” A pushy date tries to top off, “Gee, Baby, it’s been a swell evening,” by forcing a kiss. Bari deftly checks him with, “Why not let it stay that way?” followed by a gentle shove and a sarcastically sweet, “Good night.” Raft tips his hat to her prowess by dryly admiring, “As good a block as I’ve ever seen. Ever thought of playing for the Green Bay Packers?” Bari’s Frances keeps Raft’s Detective Warne firmly in place, at one point telling him, “I have a late date. And even if I hadn’t I still wouldn’t go out [with you]. Is that clear enough for you?” Later, on the set of a movie in which she’s an extra, he tries to pull off a threatening bluff to force her to come clean about the murder. With perfect control, she cuts him dead: “Why don’t you hop on your scooter, sonny boy, and blow. I’ve got to emote.” And she doesn’t care what people think about her as long as she knows the truth. Raft tries to take her down a peg by inferring from her fancy digs and couture that he sees her as a kept woman. Instead of angrily or affrontedly protesting the truth, that she’s borrowing both from a pal (hinted to be Ginger Rogers), she plays along with his misjudgment for her own amusement, responding with mock innocence, “Can I help it if people like to give me things?” Needless to say, Warne thinks she’s swell, doesn’t believe she’s the real killer, and takes the needling in stride, even fun, enjoying the challenge rather than looking for a crushing conquest.
And those outfits! Especially the sequined cocktail dress – which leads to another great quip. Her sister comments on liking the ensemble, and Frances indirectly twits Detective Warne with, “This isn’t bad considering I ran it up on a sewing machine salesman.” Still the Detective gets a kick out of, admires, her smart sauciness, her self-confidence, and the good heart he can see keeping both company. He also has a healthy respect for how she fills out a bathing suit, as well. Appearances in Sleepers West and The Amazing Mr. X deserve honorable mention in the smart-talking gal category.
I’d love to think up a plot for a mystery where Lynn could be inspiration for my heroine. I’ll have to get cracking. Maybe at some point she could help out Jessica and Liz in one of my sequels to Bait and Switch? Suggestions from any Lynn Bari fans?
Last updated 1/06/23