Hank Medhill (Robert Young) has spent the past year in Japan on business. He works for the family garment company, and went abroad to learn how to make artificial silk.

The trip had a dual purpose: Hank also left the United States so he could recover from a failed romance with Eleanor Breen (Ann Sothern).

As soon as he returns to New York, Hank learns that Eleanor is about to marry another man. Despite the protests of his cousin William (Reginald Owen), Hank runs off to track Eleanor down, interrupting the wedding and convincing Eleanor to leave her groom at the altar.

Hank and Eleanor marry that very same day. They’re every bit as in love as they were when before he left for Japan. But as the rose-colored lenses of newlywed bliss begin to fade, Eleanor and Hank realize that they are two very different people. She’s a lively showgirl who likes spending time with her showbiz friends, while he’s all business. Are they too different to make their marriage work?

Richard Thorpe directs 1937’s Dangerous Number. The film was written by Carey Wilson from a story by Leona Dalrymple.

(Image via Movie Art)
(Image via Movie Art)

Dangerous Number‘s opening scenes, in which Hank breaks up Eleanor’s wedding, are wonderfully fun. There’s witty dialogue, and nice chemistry between the two leads. Though it’s never pleasant for someone to be left at the altar, the viewer roots for Hank and Eleanor almost immediately.

Unfortunately, the fun isn’t kept up steadily. The pace is somewhat inconsistent. After that exciting opening, we enter a marital comedy which takes up the first forty minutes or so of the film, but doesn’t bring any huge laughs.

Hank and Eleanor alternate between being madly in love and bickering over their small differences. Their make-ups, in which they realize how petty they’re being, are cute, but this section of the film overall is quite slow.

The film takes a much more lively turn around forty minutes in, and the pace picks up. I can’t describe this part of the plot much without spoiling anything, but a new character is introduced — a brash woman named Vera (portrayed by Marla Shelton). Trouble seems to follow Vera! The twist is totally unexpected and takes the film in an exciting direction, elevating it from the standard marriage dramedy that it was becoming. It brings a much needed jolt of life.

One thing the film has going for it throughout is the charisma of its two stars, Robert Young and Ann Sothern. Robert Young keeps popping up in the films that I watch, and I’m becoming quite a fan of him. He’s got a mischievous sense of charm that works perfectly for the romantic comedy genre.

Despite its pacing problems, by the end Dangerous Number is a delightful little picture. I wouldn’t count it as a new favorite, but it’s an enjoyable watch. The score: 3.5/5