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The first of three Pine-Thomas productions for Chester Morris finds him as wise-cracking private detective Humphrey Campbell who impresses his boss, Oscar Flack, no end by not only finding a missing girl but also marrying her in the process. So Flack sends him to celebrate his honeymoon in the Divorce Capital of the world, Reno, Nevada, to find a missing man. Along the way, in a mixture of big city crime and old-west settings, Humphrey encounters a large assortment of suspicious characters, all of whom are also suspicious of the others. A comedy that also includes some killings along the way. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »
Music by Louis Alter (uncredited)
Played by nightclub pianist See more »
With more "hands on the script" and better direction this could have been a classic!
The players here are wonderful, Chester Morris as his usually cocky confident self as PI Humphrey Campbell, Jean Parker doing a great poverty row version of Nora Charles minus the family fortune as new bride Louise Campbell, Rose Hobart looking like she's up to no good but you just can't catch her in the act, George Watts as Humphrey's flaky boss who is overly interested in hand puppets, Dick Purcell at his menacing best given his brief screen time, and I could just go on forever.
So, you might say what was needed here were "more hands on the script". The title comes from the fact that the Darwin mortuary, conveniently located across from where the Campbells are honeymooning, installs a clock with no hands because, as the macabre little man running the mortuary states "death is timeless". The film starts out straightforward enough - Humphrey is on his honeymoon with his wife in, of all places, Reno??? That was the divorce capital of the U.S. back at the time this film was made, so things start out goofy and just get goofier. Turns out Humphrey only drinks milk, and loves to play the accordion, which he does as he and his bride settle into the honeymoon suite. Then Humphrey's boss Flack comes knocking at the door. Turns out he came all the way from LA to get Humphrey to interrupt his honeymoon and go looking for the missing son of a rich man, one that the FBI is looking for too, although they won't say why. Flack promises the pay off will be big and will only take a couple of hours, so Humphrey decides to take the case, although with Flack being a bit of flake you have to wonder why Humphrey would believe him. Well, it turns out things are more complex than that and eventually involve three murders, one of which looks like it's going to be pinned on Humphrey for awhile.
The main problem with this goofy little mystery is that in several places one of the characters will spout off a slew off facts in rapid fire. Humphrey will seize on just one thing said and that will comprise the motivation of the next ten minutes of action without any further explanation. So you have to rewind and look for what was said that would be causing Humphrey to take a particular action. This confusing state of affairs goes on all through the film, and if it were not for the delightful and often comic delivery of the players it might ruin the entire experience.
There is one great big plot hole involving Dick Purcell's character that is not explained in this movie as far as I can tell, and I watched it twice. It has to do with Red Harris' relationship to Humphrey and why Harris is useful to Humphrey in the first place. It looks like maybe they forgot to shoot at least one entire scene that would have sewed up all the loose ends.
I'd still recommend this one, just be prepared to rewind a lot and maybe even watch it in its entirety a second time. If this thing had been put out by a major studio with the same story and exactly the same players and had the benefit of the direction, screenplay finesse, and editing talents they had at their disposal, I would have given this one an 8/10 and put it right up there with The Thin Man.
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