Originally set to feature The Ritz Brothers, they were replaced by a female comedy team known as The Three Jazzybelles. See more »
I know about this house - it's haunted. I read about it in the Sunday Magazine section.
You did *what*?
Well, somebody read it to me... but I know it's haunted.
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1944's "Murder in the Blue Room" was the second and last of Universal's two remakes of 1933's "Secret of the Blue Room," following 1938's "The Missing Guest." Using basically the same backstory as in "Guest," this version dispenses with the obnoxious reporter (remember Scoop?), substituting lighthearted comedy laced with four musical numbers, one mimed by Anne Gwynne, and the others sang by The Three Jazzybelles, last minute replacements for the absent Ritz Brothers (who never again starred in any more features). The setting is once again a seaside mansion just reopening after two decades, starring lovely Anne Gwynne as the hostess (replacing Constance Moore), and John Litel as her stepfather. Bill Williams plays the William Lundigan role of Larry Dearden, who learns of the 20 year old unsolved murder in the forbidding blue room, and insists on spending the night there, only to disappear before morning, the window left wide open above the raging sea. On the following evening, newshound Steve Randall (Donald Cook, nowhere near as intrusive as Paul Kelly) decides to sleep in the same salon, only for the dead body of Larry Dearden to mysteriously turn up in the bed, with no trace of Steve! Many familiar faces abound, such as Regis Toomey, Emmett Vogan, Victoria Horne, and Milton Parsons, whose chauffeur character is referred to as both Dracula and Frankenstein during the proceedings. As for the Jazzybelles, this was the only time they ever worked together, but all three were formerly part of vaudeville sibling acts. June Preisser, the short blonde, was a former MGM rival to Judy Garland, displaying her remarkable contortions in one incredible scene, next to brunette Grace McDonald, who played the female lead in Abbott and Costello's "It Ain't Hay" and Olsen and Johnson's "See My Lawyer" (both saw their screen careers end by the late 40's). Leading the way with all the best wisecracks is the tall blonde Betty Kean, half of a sister act with Jane Kean (THE HONEYMOONERS), who plays the part scripted for Harry Ritz (and becomes the first to meet up with a real ghost, not found in the other versions). Her career continued right up until her death in 1986, but this may have been her one shining Hollywood moment. Those familiar with "The Missing Guest" will already note one major change in the scenario, but this is clearly superior to its 1938 predecessor (though neither can hold a candle to the 1933 original, with its atmospheric Germanic castle and superb sets). Neither remake was part of television's SHOCK! package of 1957, but all three turned up with regularity on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater- "Murder in the Blue Room" aired Feb 15 1975 (following 1969's "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" and 1936's "The Invisible Ray") and Oct 12 1976 (following 1960's "First Spaceship on Venus"), not seen on TV since 1988.
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