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The Nitwits (1935)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 7 June 1935 (USA)
A would-be songwriter and a would-be inventor run a cigar stand and get mixed up in the murder of a song publisher.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bert Wheeler ...
Robert Woolsey ...
Newton
Fred Keating ...
William Darrell
...
...
Alice Lake
Erik Rhodes ...
George Clark
Hale Hamilton ...
Winfield Lake
Charles C. Wilson ...
Police Captain Jennings (as Charles Wilson)
Arthur Aylesworth ...
Lurch
Willie Best ...
Sleepy
Lew Kelly ...
J. Gabriel Hazel
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Storyline

Johnnie is a would-be songwriter; Newton is a would-be inventor. Both work at a cigar stand in the lobby of an office building. Johnnie wants to sell a song to Winfield Lake, a song publisher and the owner of the building. Lake's secretary, Mary, is Johnnie's sweetheart. When Lake turns up dead, circumstances conspire to make Mary and Newton think that Johnnie is the killer. They conspire again to implicate Mary, who goes to jail. But who really shot Lake? Who is the Black Widow, the blackmailer who had threatened him? The other characters in this wacky murder mystery are: Lake's suspicious wife, a self-satisfied private detective, a seemingly slow-witted janitor, Lake's auditor, a songwriter who thinks Lake is stealing from him and another who thinks everyone is stealing from him. It's up to Newton and his truth machine to reveal the real killer. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 June 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La viuda negra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie and eight others released in a DVD collection entitled "Wheeler & Woolsey: RKO Comedy Classics Collection in March 2013 by Warner Archive. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Male Singer: [singing] I'm not the same at all, / And I can blame it all; / I thought that love was a lark. / There's something strange in me, / The sudden change in me; / I walk around in the dark. / Suddenly I found a star. / You've opened my eyes. / You made me see the light, / The beauty of the night. / You've opened my eyes. / You taught me to see / The sunny side of things. / The heart within me sings. / You brought this to me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown on a player-piano music roll, which ends with the screen filling with black music notes. See more »

Connections

References High Gear (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Music in My Heart
(1935)
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Sung and Danced by Bert Wheeler (uncredited) and Betty Grable (uncredited)
Later reprized by Bert Wheeler (uncredited), Robert Woolsey (uncredited),
Betty Grable (uncredited), and the jail prisoners
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User Reviews

 
Dismal comedy-mystery, but with at least one good song
30 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Johnnie (Bert Wheeler) is a would-be songwriter; Newton (Robert Woolsey) is a would-be inventor. Both work at a cigar stand in the lobby of an office building. Johnnie wants to sell a song to Winfield Lake, a song publisher who also owns the building. Lake's secretary, Mary (Betty Grable), is Johnnie's sweetheart. When Lake turns up dead, circumstances conspire to make Mary and Newton think that Johnnie is the killer. They conspire again to implicate Mary, who goes to jail. But who really shot Lake? Who is the Black Widow, the blackmailer who had threatened him? The other characters in this wacky murder mystery are: Lake's suspicious wife, a self-satisfied private detective, a seemingly slow-witted janitor (Willie Best), Lake's auditor, a songwriter who thinks Lake is stealing from him and another who thinks everyone is stealing from him. It's up to Newton and his truth machine to reveal the real killer.

The baby-voiced Wheeler and the cigar-chomping Woolsey strike me as an arbitrary pairing, but they made several movies together in the 30s and some of them were funny.

Not this one. George Stevens, who went on to have a distinguished career, directed this dismal comedy with a tedious murder mystery plot. But two scenes are good, and both feature Wheeler and Betty Grable singing the excellent "Music in My Heart," written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. The first time, they sing it walking up a staircase (after which they dance back down). Later, Wheeler and Woolsey are on stilts so that they can see and talk to Mary, who is in a jail cell on a high floor. Wheeler and Grable sing to each other through the bars.

"The Nitwits" has a few laughs, but the level of comedy is best illustrated by Woolsey's line: "Sonny, you've got the brain of a six-year-old boy. And I'll bet even he was glad to get rid of it." It's watered-down Groucho—who didn't use the superfluous "even" when he said it.


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