There’s Always a Woman (1938): Hall’s Comedy Mystery, Starring Melvyn Doulas, Joan Blondell, and Mary Astor

Alexander Hall directed There’s Always a Woman a light mystery comedy, starring Melvyn Douglas as detective investigating a murder, Joan Blondell as his interfering wife Sally, and Mary Astor.

The tale, based on the short story of the same name by Wilson Collison, centers on Bill Reardon (Douglas), a man whose private detective agency is not making money.  As a result, he returns to work for the district attorney as special investigator.

His wife Sally (Joan Blondell), who was the one to persuade him to start his own business, decides to keep the agency herself.  Sally is then hired by Lola Fraser (Mary Astor) to investigate Anne Calhoun (Frances Drake), a former girlfriend of Lola’s husband Walter (Lester Matthews).

At a nightclub owned by Nick Shane (Jerome Cowan), Sally witnesses Anne’s angry fiancé Jerry Marlowe (Robert Paige) threatening Walter, who ends up dead.

Mr. Ketterling (Pierre Watkin), Jerry’s employer, talks him into hiring Sally to prove him innocent. Escaping police custody as a murder suspect, Sally gets Lola to sign a confession that she killed Shane in self defense by pretending to have found her handkerchief.

However, Bill arrests Lola for hiring Shane to kill Walter to inherit all his estate instead of getting divorce settlement. When Shane blackmailed her, she killed him.

Columbia conceived of it as a series–a la Thin Man–and quickly made a sequel, There’s That Woman Again, released the same year, with Douglas reprising his role, but with Virginia Bruce as Sally.  But the project did not materialize.

Joan Blondell as Sally Reardon
Melvyn Douglas as William Reardon
Mary Astor as Lola Fraser
Frances Drake as Anne Calhoun
Jerome Cowan as Nick Shane
Robert Paige as Jerry Marlowe
Thurston Hall as District Attorney
Pierre Watkin as Mr. Ketterling
Rita Hayworth as Ketterling’s secretary (uncredited)


I am grateful to TCM for showing this film as part of tribute to Melvyn Douglas, August 5, 2019.