Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a ... See full summary »
Norman Z. McLeod
During the Great Depression, a wealthy banker throws away his wife's expensive fur coat; it lands on the head of a stenographer, leading to everyone assuming she is his mistress and has access to his millions.
Kenny Williams, a lieutenant on the homicide squad, is engaged to Maxine Carroll, the Mayor's secretary. Or isn't he rather married with his job? For each time he has a date with his ... See full summary »
A serial killer in London is murdering young women he meets through the personal columns of newspapers. He announces each of his murders to the police by sending them a cryptic poem. After ... See full summary »
Cement company CEO Stephen Dexter asks his secretary Kendall to marry him as a wife in name only, an arrangement made to protect his finances from an attempt at a hostile business takeover.... See full summary »
William A. Seiter
An aging actor, trying to make a comeback on Broadway, is surprised when his estranged daughter shows up. It seems that she is an actress and is also trying to make it on Broadway. He tries... See full summary »
John M. Stahl
Faith and Hope Banner, sisters, are "convention hostesses" in a hotel. A body is discovered next door as the magician's convention is leaving and the mortician's convention is arriving, and the sisters, with help from manager Wilburforce Puddle, try to hide it. Complicating matters, Hope's boyfriend, Tommy, is a newspaper reporter in the hotel covering some labor negotiations, and youngest sister Charity arrives and has her eye on Tommy. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
At one point, Joan Blondell tries to get rid of a pair of singing drunks by telling them Dick Powell is in a room down the hall. Blondell and Powell were then married in real life and had made a dozen pictures together. See more »
The director (Leigh Jason) keeps up the madcap pacing, while the scriptwriter comes up with a clever premise (hiding a body during a morticians convention). Then too, add some very capable performers, Blondell, Barnes, the incomparable Robert Benchley, and an extremely winsome Janet Blair. It looks promising, yet, the results are mixed at best, at least in my little book. It seems to me, a key element of screwball or madcap is flustered frustration. The classicsBringing Up Baby (1939); Murder, He Says (1945), for exampleget laughs from comedic exasperation. Petty annoyances keep thwarting a Grant or a MacMurray as they try to accomplish their goals, whether catching a big cat or escaping a deranged family. We laugh at the way everything seems to work against them, in a light-hearted way, of course. But it's that sense of comedic frustration, mounting over time and petty adversity that carries the momentum.
Now, there's a rich source of frustration here with getting the body out of the hotel. One problem is that the focus switches back and forth too often among the players, so that the crucial sense of comedic exasperation is dissipated among Blondell, Howard, the cleaning ladies and the police chief. Note that the one scene that really works, the poker-playing skit, keeps the focus on Howard and his mounting frustration in trying to get away. In short, the movie suffers because there's no one person (a Grant or a MacMurray) to identify with as he or she encounters the series of petty plot adversities. Thus, a key element of comedic continuity is lost, as, for example, when the cleaning ladies booze it up, an amusing but unconnected event. Add to that, Howard's limitations as a comedic performer and the really unfortunate casting of an inapt Hugh O'Connell as the police chief. In fact, O'Connell's role turns out to be much bigger than expected and really requires the flustered antics of an expert performer, say, a Donald McBride or a James Burke, familiar cop faces from that era.
Anyway, the movie does have its compensations, especially the clever twist ending. I'm just sorry that so many promising elements produce such a generally mild result.
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