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Scotty Hamilton is a reporter who works for a crooked editor. Bill Banning is another reporter who is about to expose the editor's ties to the mob. When the editor is killed, both reporter Banning and mobster Tony Garcia are suspected. However, Hamilton's friend Edgar Bergen solves the case (without much help from Charlie McCarthy). Written by
Richard Nathan <Richard-Nathan@worldnet.att.net>
I suppose we could give this movie points for being different, but we certainly can't give it any points for being logical. "Charlie McCarthy, Detective" combines mystery with slapstick humor in a very uneasy mixture. The movie seems deliberately intended to be surreal. All the characters in the film act as if Edgar Bergen's wooden dummies (McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd) are really alive-- at one point a doctor (Charles Lane) even operates to remove a bullet from Charlie. The movie was about halfway over before I realized that the characters were not insane, and we really were supposed to accept the notion that Charlie was an independent living creature. This takes nerve, but it would have helped if the script had somehow cued us into it. The movie is also absolutely crazy on the question of police procedure, and it prominently features a very stereotypical black character-- one of those servants who is slow on the uptake and terrified of his own shadow-- which may reflect the attitude of its times but is a bit hard to stomach today. The comedy dominates the mystery, and although the solution is somewhat intriguing, it almost comes as an afterthought to the movie's goofiness.
It sounds as if I'm saying the movie is terrible. It isn't. It isn't good, but it isn't awful. There are some good jokes, and Bergen, surprisingly, gives a pretty good performance. The supporting cast is, for the most part, strong. But I prefer my movies to make sense, and it's just impossible to take this film seriously.
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