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“Torchy Blane in Panama” Review

Torchy Blane in Panama: Directed by William Clemens. With Lola Lane, Paul Kelly, Tom Kennedy, Anthony Averill. Torchy, Steve, and Gahagan are on the trail of a bank robber aboard an ocean liner traveling from New York to L.A. via the Panama Canal.

Torchy is back, but this time without Glenda Farrall, the title role goes to Lola Lane in her only outting as Torchy. It was done well enough that Lola Lane (and Torchy in general) became the blueprint and inspiration for “Lois Lane” a reportor that’s a constant foil and love interest to Superman. The movie starts with a parade in which our dim witted but loveable Gahagan is leading a “Leopard Lodge” group of men, all of them in single shoulder leotards. As the group marches towards a bank, a man runs out, shooting back into the bank! He’s got a bag of cash, and he’s jumping into a car! The group of cavemen looking Lodgers go running into the bank and that’s where we find out that a teller was killed in the course of this crime. Gahana is still played by Tom Kennedy, but he’s one of the few returning actors, as both Torchy and McBride have new feet in those shoes. It took me a while to warm up to both of them, but I eventually got over myself and settled in for another classic Torchy tale. They figure out that the bank robber is going to be heading to Panama via the Panama Canal (and boat ‘natch), so McBride and Gahagan book tickets on the same boat, leaving Torchy in the lurch. She figures that she’s just as entitled as anyone to be on that boat, but as it’s already left the dock, she hires an airplane and parachutes into the immediate vicinity of the cruise liner, causing them to fish her out of the water. Hijinks ensue, and with the help of Galagan, they find the guy that doesn’t belong on the boat. There’s a couple attempted murders, a couple shootings, and some pajamas that I swear to god are completely see through on Lola Lane when she falls into a waterfountain, but I can’t find much about that situation on the internet, more because 1 – there was no internet when this originally came out, and 2 – there’s an active adult entertainer that seems to have taken over any kind of “Lola Lane” searches on both Google and Bing.

It’s a perfectly fine movie, but I do dearly miss Glenda Farrall in the role. I’m not sure if it’s different writing or just different delivery, but lines that used to feel like playful banter now feel mean spirited, with the main leads calling each other idiots or morons at various times. I was happy to see Gahagan’s terrible poetry show up at the very end!

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