While Oscar and Hildegarde are attending a Broadway show, a press agent is shot in an actress' dressing room and an actor is murdered onstage in full view of the audience. Oscar and Hildegarde are on the case.
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A horror anthology about a family of monsters watching a different horror story every week on their TV. Each tale is separate, often cautionary with occasional dark humor and irony and features various deadly creatures.
Pamela Dean Kelly,
Michael J. Anderson
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When the body of Violet Feverel is discovered on the Central Park bridle path, Inspector Oscar Piper is about to declare her death accidental from a thrown horse, until his friend and amateur detective Hildegarde Withers locates the horse and discovers blood on the horse. The coroner deems it a murder when the cause of death is shown to be by a blunt instrument on the victim's head. The suspects include Violet's ex-husband, Don Gregg, who she jailed for nonpayment of alimony, but who was just released by a forged court order; Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet's stables and who had an argument with her that morning; and Eddie Fry, who had quarreled with Violet over his seeing her sister, Barbara Foley, and who was about to elope with Barbara. At Don's Long Island home, Hildegarde and Oscar meet his sickly father, Patrick, the caretaker, Chris Thomas, and his crippled son, Joey. After Patrick is murdered, Hildegarde snoops around and discovers clues which pinpoint the murderer, who is... Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"It would be you," Inspector Piper nods the moment he turns and sees Hildegarde Withers arriving on the scene. "It's gotten so, Hildegarde, a person can't be killed within the city limits without your showing up."
This is, indeed, the fourth murder case on which Miss Withers assists, critiques, leads, follows, and just generally offers suggestions to her crusty detective friend. James Gleason's Oscar Piper is once again easily chagrined but grudgingly respectful of Miss Withers' detecting skills; Helen Broderick takes on the role of school teacher and amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers for the first and only time. This Withers is a bit less tart and somewhat more conscious of her own wittiness than the earlier Withers (as portrayed by Edna May Oliver). Broderick and Gleason quickly establish a rapport and relationship thatas in the earlier films in the seriesis easily our primary reason for watching.
The plot involves the death of society girl Violet Feveral, played (albeit briefly) with delicious nastiness by Sheila Terry. Suspects aboundthis Violet was, in the best whodunit tradition, wildly unpopular and had handed out insults and injuries to numerous other characters in the hours and days before her death. The familiar faces in the lineup of suspects include Louise Latimer as a sister to the victim; John Carroll as a family employee; and Leslie Fenton, who is quite good as the nervous ex-husband who has just been mysteriously released from jail. Willie Best stands out in his usual thankless role as a stable boy who may have a clue or two; his deadpan delivery when answering questions (What was he doing in jail? "Shooting craps." No, what was he in jail for? "Shooting craps.") squeezes the maximum out of a role that's otherwise a lame stereotype.
The mystery itself is not particularly inventive or suspenseful; however, the story moves along briskly and the actors and script are competent if not brilliant. The interaction between Gleason and Broderick is clearly presented as the center of the pictureand that relationship between a couple of pros is a lot of fun to watch. (One example: Oscar suggests that the murder was a "crime of passion," to which Hildegarde snaps, "Oscar, don't you think we'd better try to keep this case clean?")
Bonus: we are instructed what can be learned about a person from examining his pipe!
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