MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 36,029 this week

Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939)

Approved  |   |  Comedy  |  22 December 1939 (USA)
6.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.4/10 from 49 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

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 ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 440 titles
created 14 Oct 2011
 
a list of 3084 titles
created 04 Jun 2013
 
a list of 125 titles
created 25 Oct 2013
 
list image
a list of 9997 titles
created 26 Nov 2013
 
a list of 34 images
created 1 month ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939)

Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939) on IMDb 6.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Charlie McCarthy, Detective.

User Polls

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Edgar Bergen ...
Charlie McCarthy ...
Mortimer Snerd ...
...
Constance Moore ...
Sheila Stuart
John Sutton ...
Bill Banning
...
Arthur Aldrich
Edgar Kennedy ...
Inspector Dailey
Samuel S. Hinds ...
Court Aldrich
Harold Huber ...
Tony Garcia
Warren Hymer ...
Dutch
Ray Turner ...
Harrison 'Gravy' Randolph
Edit

Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Christmas Comes Three Days Earlier This Year!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie McCarthy detective  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: It Lives by Night (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

How Was I To Know?
Written by Eddie Cherkose and Jacques Press
Sung by Constance Moore
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Delightful period programmer for those who know the era.
12 September 2014 | by (Bolton, Ct./Jersey City, NJ; United States) – See all my reviews

I picked a slightly fuzzy DVD of this pre-war comedy because of a course I teach on the mystery format and a curiosity as to how Edgar Bergen and his character Charlie McCarthy would fit into the genre (loosely). Others have observed that Bergen wasn't much of a ventriloquist technically (in close ups in movies and television where he was extremely popular in later years it was never hard to see his lips move), but his short comings were never a problem in the large vaudeville theatres and radio programs where he established his fame, and by the time his audience got to see him close up, the ventriloquist's chief tool, the willing suspension of disbelief based on characters the viewer WANTS to watch and effective comedy material far outweighed any minor flaws in his technique.

CHARLIE McCARTHY DETECTIVE, at barely over an hour in length, is a delightful piece of genre fluff made on something of an assembly line by the studios when they still owned chains of movie theatres and had to stock them with fresh product every week; "programmers." Many of these were better than all right and developed real followings on their own - the wonderful and long running Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto series from 20th Century Fox were prime examples of the popularity mystery programmers mixing healthy touches of comedy with mystery could achieve

  • so why not a mystery with the popular specialty act? Basically no


reason at all - except that creating an effective mystery with Poe's "five elements" (something to solve, clues, red herrings, atmosphere and a satisfying solution) is not as simple as some might suppose. In addition to diverting cues and red herrings just obvious enough for the audience to guess along, but obscure enough to keep them at least slightly mystified until the solution is revealed, you have to leave them happy with the final reveal.

CHARLEY McCARTHY, DETECTIVE starts promisingly enough with the easiest part, acknowledging the artificiality of the concept and the leads - Bergen and McCarthy are delightful "atmosphere" as entertainers in a night club performing a bit (and a title song for the film!) with McCarthy dressed as a puppet version of Sherlock Holmes and comic lyric references to other popular detectives of the day. For fans of period mystery movies, this opening scene is reason enough to see the film. It also introduces the film's main characters: a villainous magazine editor smoothly played by the always suave Louis Calhern, with ties to an equally oily mobster played by Harold Huber (moving up a step from the well remembered snitch, Nunheim, he had played three years before in THE THIN MAN), a girl singer played (and sung) charmingly enough by Constance Moore (possibly best remembered in her long career for her Wilma Deering in FLASH GORDON films) and her stalwart reporter beaus, Robert Cummings (later an inexplicable favorite Hitchcock hero in several feature films and a sitcom star in his own show) and John Sutton (much later "Col. Tarleton" in Disney's "Swamp Fox" series - here missing for the first part of the film trying to evade assassination by our evil editor while getting back from South America with evidence against said editor).

Naturally, one of the main characters - three guesses who and the first two don't count (it's not anyone billed above the title) is killed. It isn't Mortimer Snerd who is also above the title, although many in the audience wouldn't have minded; he's a self confessed clueless character dropped into the film as an extra comic relief mainly because he was then one of Bergen's most famous characters, after McCarthy, on radio. Almost everyone except Bergen and those he is literally attached to comes under suspicion and before the hour is quite up Bergen himself solves the fast paced problem forcing a confession from the killer.

Therein lies the film's main problem, if it has one (in fairness, as a real mystery it never develops strong enough cases against alternate suspects). The clue Bergen hangs his solution on and the killer's motivation on (he's "a sentimentalist"), while very well written and played in the actual scene, may not strike the viewer as satisfying. There was much the same problem with the pilot episode of Angela Lansbury's "Murder She Wrote" TV series, but that didn't preclude a seven year run for the Lansbury series on CBS-TV.

CHARLIE McCARTHIE, DETECTIVE didn't spark a series, or even a sequel, but if you're curious for what the 30's phenomenon of Edgar Bergen was all about, it's an enjoyable sampling with a fair pastiche of shoot-'em-up 30's murder mystery mixed in and a diverting afternoon's viewing. Recommended as such, if not much more.


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?