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Movie Critique – Born for Trouble

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: A fast-paced investigative story by two reporters who solve a complicated case and at the same time bring down a whole slew of corrupted officials. Easy to watch, thoroughly entertaining and leaving you with a smile at the end.

Born for Trouble is a 1942 American crime drama starring Van Johnson and Faye Emerson in the lead roles. Originally released as Murder in the Big House, it was re-released as Born for Trouble in 1945 following the wedding of Emerson's marriage to the then President Roosevelt's son Elliott Roosevelt.

Young reporters Bert Bell (portrayed by Van Johnson) and Gladys Wayne (portrayed by Faye Emerson) take on the assignment of another top investigative reporter, "Scoop" Conner (portrayed by George Meeker), and find themselves looking at the body of death row inmate, "Dapper Dan" Malloy (portrayed by Michael Ames). They have their suspicions on the supposed "death by lightning" report by Warden Bevins (portrayed by William Gould) and start their own investigation. Little do they know that they would unravel a long trail of corruption and murder.

This was the debut big screen role for both Van Johnson and Faye Emerson. Though the film was given a B-movie category, it gave immense success to both Van and Faye who went on to become top-billing actors of the 1940s. Again another pair of investigative reports solving a case as opposed to the trained police officers - a theme that had been very alike in several of the old time radio gumshoe shows back then.

Van Johnson has given a swell performance as a new and young reporter who has all the enthusiasm in the world to make a difference and fight crime. Faye Emerson becomes a perfect partner in unraveling the case, with her quick wit, smart brain and handy maneuvers in managing other men reporters easily. Along-side we get to see a plethora of actors performed as uncredited cast in the movie, who later on went on to become huge successful actors in their own way. 

The story line reminds me of several movies such as His Girl Friday and other episodes from various old time radio shows. Yet, there is a sort of refreshing breath with the scientific approach the murders are done in and solved by the investigators. 

A fast-paced investigative story by two reporters who solve a complicated case and at the same time bring down a whole slew of corrupted officials. Easy to watch, thoroughly entertaining and leaving you with a smile at the end.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. You can see the original title also listed in the opening credits.

b. Tod Andrews uses his stage name Michael Ames in this movie as he portrays the role of the death row inmate, Dan Malloy. 

c. I saw Van Johnson in another movie, 23 Paces to Baker Street, which was released a good 14 years after this was released. He plays a blind playwright in that film. 

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