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THE BRASS MONKEY is a bizarre cross-genre mix of thriller and variety show, of real-life and make-believe. In fact it's one of the oddest films I've seen of the 1940s, as it comes across as an attempt to tack a half-hearted murder mystery/thriller style plot onto some very dated 'talent show' stagings which certainly haven't stood the test of time.
The film features real-life Canadian radio star Carroll Levis, who visits England and becomes embroiled in the hunt for a stolen brass ornament that's being pursued by a wealthy collector (THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN's Ernest Thesiger). A shady Herbert Lom hangs around and looks, well, shady, while the lovely and tragic Carole Landis (who would take her own life shortly after this film was made) brings plenty of glamour to her central part.
There are a couple of murders to enliven things and some plodding police procedural stuff to drag them down again. The last third of the film is given over to a variety show where real-life entertainers play themselves; a pianist called Hutch, a comedienne by the name of Avril Angers, and finally Terry-Thomas himself, constantly mugging. There's a surprising plot twist at the end, but I have to admit this dated talent show stuff left me cold and reminded me of the glut of reality TV plaguing our screens in the modern age. Thus THE BRASS MONKEY is a film I can hardly say I enjoyed, although fans of any of the main participants (are there still any?) will no doubt want to see it.
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