Wally Benton, "The Fox," master detective on radio, is about to go with his sweetheart to Niagara Falls in order to get married. Unknown to him, his valet has told a newspaper reporter that Benton is "Constant Reader," someone who has sent information to newspapers about murdered people and where to find their bodies, thus making the police look bad. The police are sure that "Constant Reader" is the murderer himself, since no one else could know all of the details. And so they begin a chase after Benton, a chase which leads to old abandoned warehouses and old abandoned mansions. Wally is being chased not only by the police but also by the real "Constant Reader." Can he save his girl, his assistant, and the reporter and solve the crime before either the villain or the police, who have been told to shoot on sight, kill them all? Written by
Jim Knoppow <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The man of many talents, Red Skelton, has some of his funniest moments on screen in this third and final installment of his amateur radio detective, Wally 'The Fox' Benton, series. Keeping up with him most of the way are the marvelous Rags Ragland as Chester the chauffeur, aka press agent, and the vivaciously funny dippy blonde, Jean Rogers, as a dumber than Rags (would you believe?) reporter. Two "dolls" are better than one in a comedy gangster flick. So the viewer is treated to the curvaceous Ann Rutherford as Wally's bride-to-be, Carol Lambert, who has fewer funny lines than the others, but is still delicious icing on the cake.
There are several scenes that are as fresh today as they were sixty-three years ago. One displays the comedic ability of Rags Ragland, who left us way too soon, to illustrate what perfect timing he could bring to a humorous sketch. He is attempting to use the telephone to assist his new client, Wally, when he is driven to anger by an aloof operator. Ma Bell would not receive such a lampooning again until the equally brilliant Lily Tomlin appeared as Ernestine, the telephone operator, nearly thirty years later. Watch too when the comic quartet is trapped in an elevator shaft. All four are dangling in the air, holding on to a precarious cable. Rags exclaims, "I didn't know I weighed so much." It's also a pleasure to see the Brooklyn Dodgers participating in all the shenanigans at the ball park, with Leo Durocher in the limelight. Then there's the final slapstick-filled sequence that ties the loose ends together.
There may be a few clinkers here and there, such as Wally's jibe,"You'll live the life of Riley...that is, if Riley don't come home," a joke that was already stale in 1943. But when a comic is on a roll, there are bound to be a few stale puns. Even Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy fall flat sometimes.
Enjoying the antics of these four clowns may cause the viewer to forget what the plot is about. Which is OK since it's nothing new. The story deals with the mob getting even, police corruption, and a popular radio personality, Wally "The Fox," being mistaken for a hit-man, The Constant Reader. All poor Wally wants to do is get married, honeymoon at Niagra Falls, and take a break from his job. Before he can do that, he must clear himself of the murders he is accused of committing.
Red Skelton's many fans will love this film. Those unfamiliar with Red's humor may miss many of the inside jokes, such as "I dood it," but should enjoy the rest, especially if fans of old-time radio and lovers of slapstick.
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