This film offers a wonderful glimpse into the glamour of one underrated actress, Carole Landis. Her unmatched beauty and compelling charm leap off the screen in "Having a Wonderful Crime."
The 1940s were one of the most important decades in American fashion. How generous of the director, Eddie Sutherland, to display Landis in sensational haute couture outfits throughout this enchanting 70 minutes. Ignore the silly plot, pay no attention to the slapstick sight gags, just absorb the leading lady's tailored suits with their squared shoulders, fitted jackets, mid-calf flounce skirts, all ending in seamed nylon stockings with toeless high heels. Savor her wide-brimmed hats and her varied Forties hairstyles, from pageboy to pinned up pompadour rolls. This film should have a place in syllabi at the Fashion Institute of Technology to inspire young designer hopefuls.
Lovely newlywed, Helene Justus, dons sophisticated outfits that enchant us with the distinctive fashion influences of that decade. I love her incredible chevron striped suit that emphasizes her full-bosomed, hourglass figure and her wedding night dressing-gown with gently squared shoulders, videographed to give us a long side view of her tiny waist. To my eye, her waist size rivals the legendary 18-inch waist of Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara.
I put "Having a Wonderful Crime" into a sieve, and allowed the banality to run out down the drain so that just the good parts remain ... the beauty, the fashion, and the fun. We get some juicy peaks at upscale lifestyles of 1945. As the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Justus, and pals enter a hotel, Landis' character says, "Darling, shouldn't you register us now?" The man of the couple is central in the relationship and the 'take charge' guy. It would have been unheard of for the young wife to register the couple at the front desk. In another scene, our heroine says, "My skirt's too tight . . ." An obvious playful invitation for viewers to focus in on Carole Landis' amazing curves.
This actress possessed stunning natural beauty AND could also act. Her comedic talent is noteworthy. The strength of this movie is not in the plot, not the direction, not even in the acting. It is in experiencing Carole Landis, a real "hottie" of the Forties.
It is impossible for me to view "Having a Wonderful Crime" and not think about the fact that Carole Landis committed suicide at the tender age of 29, just 3 years after the release of this film. This raving beauty, with even features punctuated by a pouty red mouth, should have been a major star. She just didn't get the breaks.
If you enjoy retro fashion, if you love the Forties, if you appreciate the splendor of human beauty ... see "Having a Wonderful Crime."