7.8/10
1,690
39 user 7 critic

Who Done It? (1942)

Approved | | Comedy, Mystery | 6 November 1942 (USA)
Two dumb soda jerks dream of writing radio mysteries. When they try to pitch an idea at a radio station, they end up in the middle of a real murder when the station owner is killed during a broadcast.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Musical | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A pair of bus drivers accidentally steal their own bus. With the company issuing a warrant for their arrest, they tag along with a playboy on a boat trip that finds them on a tropical island, where a jewel thief has sinister plans for them.

Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Virginia Bruce
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Music | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When a barnstorming stunt pilot decides to join the air corps, his two goofball assistants decide to go with him. Since the two are Abbott & Costello, the air corps doesn't know what it's in for.

Directors: Arthur Lubin, Ralph Ceder
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Martha Raye
Comedy | Western | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two peanut vendors at a rodeo show get in trouble with their boss and hide out on a railroad train heading west. They get jobs as cowboys on a dude ranch, despite the fact that neither of ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Foran
In the Navy (1941)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Russ Raymond, America's number one crooner, disappears and joins the Navy under the name Tommy Halstead. Dorothy Roberts, a magazine journalist, is intent on finding out what happened to ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Powell
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two bumbling service station attendants are left as the sole beneficiaries in a gangster's will. Their trip to claim their fortune is sidetracked when they are stranded in a haunted house ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Richard Carlson
Hit the Ice (1943)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Two newspaper photographers get mixed up with gangsters at a ski resort.

Directors: Charles Lamont, Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Ginny Simms
In Society (1944)
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two bumbling plumbers are hired by a socialite to fix a leak. A case of mistaken identity gets the pair an invitation to a fancy party and an entree into high society. As expected, things ... See full summary »

Directors: Jean Yarbrough, Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marion Hutton
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When their captain is swindled out of his riverboat by a trio of gamblers, stage show star Abbott and his bumbling sidekick Costello must put things right.

Director: Jean Yarbrough
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Alan Curtis
Comedy | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two bumblers become caretakers at an all-girls college. During their misadventures, the duo raise money to free the school from its traditionally-minded landlord.

Director: Jean Yarbrough
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Peggy Ryan
Buck Privates (1941)
Comedy | Musical | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Bud and Lou enlist in the army in order to escape being hauled off to jail, and soon find themselves in basic training. To their dismay, the company's drill instructor is none other than ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lee Bowman
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Jim "Lucky" Moore (Allan Jones), an insurance salesman, comes up with a novel policy for his friend, Steve (Robert Cummings): a 'love insurance policy', that will pay out $1-million if ... See full summary »

Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Stars: Allan Jones, Nancy Kelly, Robert Cummings
Little Giant (1946)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Lou Costello plays a country bumpkin vacuum-cleaner salesman, working for the company run by the crooked Bud Abbott. To try to keep him under his thumb, Abbott convinces Costello that he's ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Brenda Joyce
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Chick Larkin / Voice of Himself on Radio
...
Mervin Q. Milgrim / Voice of Himself on Radio
...
Jimmy Turner
...
Police Lt. Lou Moran
...
Jane Little
...
Col. J.R. Andrews
...
Detective Brannigan
...
Art Fraser
...
Marco Heller
...
Juliet Collins
...
Dr. Anton Marek
Edit

Storyline

Two dumb soda jerks dream of writing radio mysteries. When they try to pitch an idea at a radio station, they end up in the middle of a real murder when the station owner is killed during a broadcast.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 November 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deux nigauds détectives  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

For a murder-mystery set in a radio studio, the film certainly had its share of personalities who themselves were radio actors. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello had been introduced to the nation on "The Kate Smith Hour", and (at the time this film), had their own highly successful radio show. William Bendix (Detective Brannigan) was a bit player in radio at the time, but was to soon become famous for his radio show "The Life of Riley". Walter Tetley (the busboy) was an accomplished child radio actor, playing various roles on different shows including "The Great Gildersleeve" and "The Phil Harris/Alice Faye Show". Finally, William Gargan (Detective Moran) starred in his own radio show, "Barry Craig, Confidential Investigator". See more »

Goofs

When Juliet is telling Mervyn that he can buy her some ice cream after the radio broadcast but that she had to go take care of radio business, her voice is heard but her lips don't move. When she turns around after entering the studio, she says something, but it isn't heard. See more »

Quotes

Chick Larkin: [talking about Juliet Collins] She's only got a couple of buck teeth.
Mervin Q. Milgrim: Why do I care what she paid for them?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Naughty Nineties (1945) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
vote for townSEND pHELPs
21 June 2006 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

There are better films featuring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, but "Who Done It" is as good a way as any to discover why the comedy pair was one of the 1940s' most consistent box office draws. It's a marvelously elongated piece of slapstick comedy that showcases Bud and Lou in peak form.

Chick (Bud) and Mervin (Lou) are soda jerks at the Radio Center Drug Store, located in the same building where GBS broadcasts radio shows across the country. The pair want to write a mystery, so when the network director is mysteriously murdered on the air, they jump at the chance to solve the case and prove their smarts. Needless to say, this impromptu sleuthing annoys the real police, and Chick and Mervin are soon on the run.

Just about a year into their 16-year run, "Who Done It" finds Abbott and Costello bursting with energy, utilizing the confines of a radio station as background for their trademark pratfalls and patter. Even when the dialogue is less than stellar, it works at sustaining the energy and proving there was nothing too illogical for Abbott and Costello.

"Why wasn't this murder reported yesterday," Mervin demands as he shows up seconds after the murder, playing a cop.

Because it didn't happen yet, is the answer.

"Why wait until the last minute...You're going to get the electric chair, and two years besides!"

Before you can register enough to groan about that one, Chick is educating Mervin on watts and volts. "What's volts?" "Exactly, watts are volts." "That's what I'm trying to find out...Next thing you'll tell me watts is on second!"

Then you get one of the best bits Abbott and Costello ever did on film, the Alexander 2222 routine, where Mervin tries to call the radio station from a drug store across the street and can't get through, even as a bevy of bizarre characters step into the same phone booth to call places like Nome, Alaska and Moscow. "Long distance, get me Brazil. Hello, Brazil. Is this Joe? Hi Joe! How's the coffee business?" There's lots of great silliness here, my favorite being when Lou for no reason bursts into opera.

As theowinthrop notes in his review, this is an interesting Abbott & Costello film for its focus on radio, which broke them as a national phenomenon and where they continued to work throughout their film career. There's a nice bit where Chick and Mervin, behind the counter of their drug store, act out their radio script with ice-cream scoopers ("'The Midget Gets The Chair,' or 'Small Fry'") and clever use of the tools of radio, like recordings that are activated at the wrong moment, and a prop door Mervin mistakes for the real thing. Walk through one door, and you are in a dark office where a murderer lurks, walk through another and you are in the middle of an acrobatic act.

Why is there an acrobatic act being performed at a radio station? Why are Chick and Mervin entrusted with the one piece of evidence by someone who knows they aren't cops? How does Mervin manage to climb up the side of a building after taking a flagpole in the crotch? Watching an Abbott and Costello movie, you have to ignore stuff like that.

But what you get in "Who Done It" is worth the sacrifice. You get a first-rate supporting cast including the memorable Mary Wilkes, Patric Knowles from "The Adventures of Robin Hood," Edmund MacDonald from "Flying Tigers," and most effectively, William Bendix as a dopey detective who actually manages to get himself tricked by Lou. There's also a great finale on the roof of a building that combines laughs and suspense as effectively as anything in the more-heralded "Meets Frankenstein."

Later on, the films got weaker as Lou pushed Bud to the side and showcased himself more as cuddly man-child. But here the pair was still hungry for laughs and experienced enough to understand what worked. They gave the public what they wanted with "Who Done It," and its a tribute to their lasting genius such a light endeavor still holds up today.


7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Abbott and Costello Are Coming To DVD In February Abbott_and_Costello_Fan
Why Didn't Walter Tetley get any billing? ANDREWEHUNT
Discuss Who Done It? (1942) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?