‘She’s one blonde I know didn’t have more fun’
Ex-Miami cop turned private detective, Tony Rome (Frank Sinatra) encounters mobsters, girls in micro-minis and burlesque shows in this nifty little mystery.
We first see Rome, playing cards aboard his rusty fishing boat and looking for some sunken Spanish treasure. As Rome scuba dives, he is startled by the nude corpse of a voluptuous young blonde, floating upright among the seaweeds, her feet bound in cement.
After calling the coast guard, Rome goes back to his houseboat, where he runs his detective agency from. He immediately gets a message from a potential new client, Gronsky, a big mountain of a man, who hires him to find a woman named Sondra Lomax.
Taking on the new client, Rome goes to Sondra’s last whereabouts, Jilly’s, a bar with go-go dancers in skimpy bikinis. The owner of the bar, Danny Yale, claims she worked for him, but hasn’t seen her since. Yale tells Rome she was at a party held by socialite Kit Forrest (Raquel Welch). Attempting to interview Kit, Rome is stonewalled by her ex-mobster neighbors, Al Mungar and his son Paul.
Rome soon gets caught up in a maelstrom of murder, manipulation and blackmail.
Tony Rome is reminiscent of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser mysteries. Both are very witty and full of snappy one liners. The movie is an interesting look at pre-Mariel boatlift Miami, before the flood of migrants irrevocably changed South Florida. This is best chronicled in the non-fiction bestseller, Miami Babylon by Gerald Posner. Despite some strong points, the film suffers from an out of sync score which doesn’t fit the action on screen. Furthermore, Sinatra is an unconvincing love interest for the much younger Welch. Nevertheless, you can’t fault a film for cheekily ending with a close-up shot of Welch bending over in see-through white jeans.