|The Bamboo Blonde|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Anthony Mann|
|Produced by||Herman Schlom|
|Screenplay by||Olive Cooper|
|Based on||"Chicago Lulu"|
The Saturday Evening Post (April 15, 1944)
by Wayne Whittaker
|Music by||C. Bakaleinikoff|
|Edited by||Les Millbrook|
|Distributed by||RKO Pictures|
The Bamboo Blonde is a 1946 American war film directed by Anthony Mann based on an original story "Chicago Lulu" by Wayne Whittaker. A low budget production, it stars singer Frances Langford in the title role, Ralph Edwards – from TV's This Is Your Life – and Russell Wade, usually a bit player. As an RKO star, Langford was famous for her role in entertaining the troops in World War II, and the film features a number of songs that her character sings at a nightclub.
Businessman Eddie Clark (Ralph Edwards) tells a reporter the story behind his conglomerate of products branded as the "Bamboo Blonde". During the Pacific War, Captain Patrick Ransom, Jr. (Russell Wade), the pilot of a B-29 bomber is stood up by his fiancée Eileen Sawyer (Jane Greer) on the way to meet his new crew at a New York nightclub, owned by Clark. Instead, he sees Louise Anderson (Frances Langford), a beautiful blonde singer at the nightclub. Although engaged, he falls in love with the singer, but has to leave next day for action in the Pacific, joining an experienced bomber crew as their new pilot. The crew is reluctant to accept their new "skipper" and decide to dump him at the out-of-bounds nightclub, coming back later to find the captain and the torch singer kissing.
In the Pacific, to try to break their bad luck streak, Captain Ransom lets the crew paint the image of "Bamboo Blonde" on the nose of his bomber, as the crew members think that the striking blonde singer they had seen, is his girl. The "Bamboo Blonde" becomes famous when the B-29 bombs a major industrial target and shoots down numerous Japanese fighter aircraft. The armed forces decides to bring the "Bamboo Blonde" and its crew back home to sell war bonds across the country and Clark knows that he can exploit his singer's connection to the famous bomber. Back in New York, the captain leaves his fiancée and seeks out Louise, who has also fallen in love with the pilot.
In May 1943, RKO originally advertised that a countrywide series of contests would be used to find an "unknown" to portray The Bamboo Blonde in a future romantic comedy feature. Anthony Mann, on only his 11th film as a director, is better known for later working with James Stewart on (primarily) western films like The Naked Spur (1953), film noirs and epics in his last years. This early film is typical of a period when Mann accepted any and all assignments in a variety of genres.
Songs in the film were all written by Mort Greene and Lew Pollack, and sung by Frances Langford.
Scenes from The Bamboo Blonde later appeared in an excerpted form in Make Mine Laughs (1949), starring Joan Davis, Dennis Day and Ray Bolger. The new film was a filmed variety show, using old material from RKO films and some new filmed scenes.