The seventh and final film in Universal's "Francis" series was the first to be without Donald O'Connor as he left the series and was replaced by Mickey Rooney. Also new here is that Chill Willis was replaced as Francis' voice and replaced by Paul Frees so this is pretty much a new film that separates itself from the previous six and since they didn't bother with another one I think the quality is easy to see. This time out there's a murder that plagues an old castle and soon David Prescott (Rooney) is the main suspect so Francis must clear him and track down the real killers. I've seen a few of the previous entries and it's easy to say that one really shouldn't expect any type of "quality" when it comes to a Francis movie and this one here is about as good as you could expect. As usual, the majority of the jokes are aimed at children but I'll admit that a couple of them had me laughing but after about twenty-minutes the film really falls apart because the screenplay goes lazy and just delivers the same type of joke over and over and over again. The majority of the 80-minute running time has Rooney being "told" information by Francis and of course when Rooney tells the police who his source is they don't believe him. We then get an unfunny interrogation sequence, which happens at least four or five times and they're never funny. Rooney will get accused of something, talk about the mule and of course everyone thinks he's crazy. This type of humor was normal for the series but if you don't put anything around it you're just beating a dead joke over the head. Rooney isn't too bad in the film as he at least knows to have some fun with the material and he plays opposite the mule quite well. I will say as a fan of Rooney it's a little sad to see him in a flick like this considering some of the classics he made at MGM in the 30s and 40s. The supporting cast includes the likes of Paul Cavanagh, Virginia Welles and David Janssen. The comedy elements really don't work all that well but even more disappointing are the "horror" elements, which are very minor. This is too bad because director Charles Lamont had helped Abbott and Costello in a few of their "Meet the Monster(s)" films.
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