Vacation in Reno (1946)

Vacation in Reno (1946)

Directed by Leslie Goodwins this Charles Kerr story’s screenplay was written by Charles E. Roberts and Arthur Ross (Brubaker (1980)). It’s a below average comedy based on misunderstandings and marriage using a bank robbery and the divorce capital of the country as backdrops. I don’t believe I’ve seen any other films besides The Wizard of Oz (1939) featuring Jack Haley and it’s ironic that this was his last (save one almost 25 years later which his son directed). If the other 35 or so in which he appeared are comedies like this one I don’t think I’ve missed anything.

Jack Carroll (Haley) and his wife Eleanor (Anne Jeffreys) have a seemingly happy marriage with Jack hoping to strike it rich by breading championship rabbits. However their social friends Eddie (Wally Brown) & Sally (Claire Carleton) Beaver can’t seem to stop arguing every time the two couples get together. So Jack & Eleanor pretend to have a fight the next time they get together in order to show the Beavers how silly they look. Unfortunately the pretense becomes reality once they get home because Jack referred to his mother-in-law as a “fat porpoise”. This real row leads Eleanor to go stay with her mother (Constance Purdy uncredited). Coincidentally Jack had purchased some Army surplus supplies (an all-terrain vehicle and a metal detector) to hunt for buried treasure to fund the rabbit farm. Since he was due a two week vacation from work anyway he decided to use the time for this purpose. Of course the location of the treasure according to a book he has is near Reno. Jack couldn’t get through his mother-in-law on the phone to talk with his wife but his friend Eddie tells his wife who tells Eleanor who will obviously get the wrong idea.

Once in Reno Jack accidentally bumps into some thieves on their way in on his way out of the bank where he cashed a check. The bank robbers Joe (Morgan Conway) & Angel (Alan Carney) get away with $60000 which they bury under a tree near an Indian landmark. The guard at the bank (Robert Bray uncredited) identifies Jack as the only person who got a good look at the criminals because they wore masks once they were inside. Even though Jack says he didn’t and didn’t even realize a robbery took place the police take down his name and where he’s staying for further questioning later. Once he checks into the Bar Nothing Ranch Jack goes treasure hunting and of course finds the bank loot though he thinks it’s the treasure listed in his book. Before he has a chance to check the suitcase full of money at the front desk the bag is mistakenly taken by another woman checking in Mrs. Dumont (Myrna Dell). Through an odd course of events the thieves’ accomplice Bunny Wells (Iris Adrian) is thought to be Jack’s wife by the police and his correspondent by his wife who shows up in Reno thinking her husband is seeking a divorce. Jack is unable to adequately explain things to his wife before a divorce attorney Mr. Sharkbattle (Jack Rice uncredited) swoops down on the situation. Eleanor ends up getting her own room in the hotel when her husband’s attempt to explain things by opening Mrs. Dumont’s bag full of lingerie instead of showing her the money causes her to mistrust him further.

Most of the rest of this short film (about 60 minutes) involves comic room to room interaction on the second floor of the hotel: Jack trying to exchange his bag with the identical one owned by the attractive Mrs. Dumont whose half-pint Navy noncom husband (Matt McHugh) has now joined her; the bank robbers who have figured out that Jack has their loot trying to get it without being caught by the Sheriff’s (Jason Robards Sr.) Deputy; and the Deputy (Matt Willis) who still believes that Bunny is Jack’s wife and that Jack is harassing all the women like Eleanor who have rooms on the second floor. Eventually there is an improbable chase which includes a fireworks laden stagecoach and everything works out as one would expect in the end.

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