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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:
...
Robert Woolsey ...
Newton
...
William Darrell
...
...
Alice Lake
Erik Rhodes ...
George Clark
Hale Hamilton ...
Winfield Lake
...
Police Captain Jennings (as Charles Wilson)
...
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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of 21 movies made by popular comedy duo Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey between 1929 and 1937, before Woolsey died in 1938. It is also the last minor feature directed by film luminary George Stevens before he broke through with Alice Adams (1935). 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Could They Use Woolsey's Machine At Guantanamo?
18 December 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Nitwits are of course Wheeler&Woolsey and in this film they own a cigar stand in the building where music publisher Hale Hamilton has an office. Hamilton's got a secretary played by Betty Grable that Bert is stuck on. Hamilton's married to Evelyn Brent, but never lets that stand in the way of a little nookie.

Anyway, a notorious criminal called the Black Widow is known for sending out letters of extortion demanding money or the victim would be killed. Hamilton decides not to give in and does wind up dead as a result.

Unlike Abbott&Costello's Who Done It which has a lot of the same plot premise, The Nitwits is better edited and the perpetrator doesn't come out of nowhere as in Bud&Lou's film. Unfortunately due to one of the gags which involves Woolsey inventing a chair in which a charge of electricity passes through you so you blurt the truth out, we learn a little prematurely in my opinion who the culprit is.

Anyway because Betty is a prime suspect, Wheeler&Woolsey get themselves involved in the investigation. They prove as much help to the cops as Abbott&Costello did, but like them they do stumble on to the perpetrator.

One reason this film is not revived too often is the climax also involves a bunch of black people being allowed by one of their peers who works as a janitor to use the basement for a quiet crap game. Their fright reactions in the climatic chase of the culprit plays into a lot of racial stereotyping.

Anyway I did like Woolsey's Rube Goldberg contraption as a gag. Maybe they could use a real one of those at Guantanamo.


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