Don’t Bet on Blondes (1935)

Odds Owen (Warren William) is a bookie who has just lost a big bet on a horse race. This loss was through no fault of his own, though. Opposing better T. Everett Markham (Clay Clement) has been doping the horses.

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(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Disgusted by Markham’s behavior and the general trend of dishonesty in the gamblin’ game, Odds decides to quit the bookie business and open an insurance sales office. His company will cover whatever the others won’t: voices, multiple births, and even marriages.

Colonel Youngblood (Guy Kibbee) is one of those marriage insurers. He comes to Odds and decides to bet on his daughter Marilyn (Claire Dodd) marrying within the next three years. If she marries, he’ll get a payout from the insurance company, and will be able to publish the civil war book he’s been working on for many years.

Don’t Bet on Blondes was directed by Robert Florey, from a story and screenplay by Isabel Dawn and Boyce DeGaw.

“Odds Owen” — what a great name for a character. And Warren William is a natural choice to play this scheming gambler-turned-insurance man.

William plays Odds as a man who takes no bull from anyone, and when the gamblin’ game gets too corrupt for him, he moves on to selling those wild insurance policies. It’s a crazy scheme, but there’s a whole lot of money to be made. So begins this brief tale of two different brands of betting!

The marriage policy, centering on the “blonde” from the film’s title, is pretty silly and makes the film quite predictable. Unfortunately, it isn’t predictable in the formulaic-but-fun way of the rom-com, but in the way that leaves the viewer recognizing missed potential. Odds Owen is apparently selling the most unusual insurance policies ever sold in the country. Surely, a more interesting scenario could have been found to explore!

That being said, the film does bring some fun. William as Odds Owen shares some nice banter and romantic tension with Claire Dodd, playing his love interest, Marilyn.

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(Image via warrenwilliam.com)

We have Guy Kibbee in a supporting performance as the father of Marilyn. Known as “The Colonel,” he’s obsessed with the American civil war, and the confederacy in particular, since his own father fought on that side. The film pokes a lot of fun at this obsession, and Kibbee plays the character convincingly.

And then there’s Errol Flynn in a small role, playing a suitor to Marilyn! This was one of his earliest big-screen roles, and it’s easy to see why he soon skyrocketed to stardom. He’s charming as heck, with a magnetic screen presence, even though his role is relatively brief.

With those fine performances and decent chemistry among the cast, the weakness here is the writing. There just isn’t enough to the scenario or the script to bring laughs or swoon-worthy romance to what should be a high-energy story of insane bets and unlikely couplings.

Tune in if you’re a fan of Warren William or want to see Errol Flynn in such an early role, but for the most part, Don’t Bet on Blondes is skippable.

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