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Murder with Music (1941)

| Comedy, Crime, Drama
The beautiful Nellie Hill has many admirers but when one of them gets killed all the others are suspected. All this in among some great singing and dancing, some great bands and songs. This... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Bob Howard ...
Milton Williams ...
Ted (as Milton J. Williams)
Nellie Hill ...
Lola (as Nelle Hill)
George Oliver ...
Hal
Bill Dillard ...
Mike
Marjorie Oliver ...
Secretary
Ruth Cobbs ...
Mary Smith
Ken Renard ...
Bill Smith
Andrew Maize ...
Jerry
Pinky Williams ...
Lewis
Skippy Williams ...
Band leader
Alston ...
Dancer (as Alston & Young)
Noble Sissle ...
Themselves (as Nobel Sissel and his Orchestra)
Young ...
Dancer (as Alston & Young)
Johnson ...
Specialty dancer (as Johnson & Johnson)
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Storyline

The beautiful Nellie Hill has many admirers but when one of them gets killed all the others are suspected. All this in among some great singing and dancing, some great bands and songs. This is a showcase for Black Entertainment of the time. Written by Anonymous

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Bill Smith sits in his chair at home to have a drink, there are three glasses on the table next to the chair. Later Mary comes over and Bill pours her a drink which takes back to her seat. The next seat shows three glasses still on the table. The number and position of the glasses continually changes between shots set in this room. See more »

Soundtracks

Can't Help It
Written by Skippy Williams
Sung by Nellie Hill accompanied by an unidentified pianist
Reprised by her, accompanied by Skippy Williams and his band
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth watching only for the historical context, for Nellie Hill's vocals, for Noble Sissle and for two first-rate songs
28 January 2008 | by (San Antonio, Texas) – See all my reviews

So is a movie worth watching when the direction is even clunkier than the acting, when the acting with only one or two exceptions is embarrassingly amateurish, when the plot is chopped up and dull, when the jokes and comedy relief aren't just flat they're concave, and when the murder in the title is barely squeezed in 55 minutes into the 58 minute run time? Yes, but just barely.

Murder with Music is one of the movies featuring black actors and entertainers that Hollywood cranked out to fill America's segregated (officially or de factor) movie theaters in the Thirties, Forties and early Fifties. The name of this game was minimal budgets and production values, but with lots of musical numbers. The plots are almost irrelevant. This one features Lola (Nellie Hill), a singer in the nightclub owned by Bill Smith (Ken Renard). Lola has suitors, including an escaped convict, a piano player and a reporter. With off-and-on flashbacks we see the comedy mix-ups and mistaken motives that are played mostly for laughs. As time passes, this plot becomes really tiresome. The acting doesn't help much. Nellie Hill evidently only made two movies. She was a fine-looking young woman with a bright and warming smile, a first-class vocalist and an awful actress. Ken Renard, who had a long career mainly in secondary roles, especially in television, carries the acting load. He's assured and competent. The movie's value is that in 58 minutes nine major musical numbers are squeezed in. We have songs by Hill, tap-dancing duos, a comedy song well sung by a large man I couldn't find a credit for, plus Noble Sissle and his orchestra in some fine swing numbers. There's a production number supposedly being shown on a primitive television set that is gobstopping: Chorus girls dressed mainly in bandanas and bananas dance and stomp about telling us to "flip your lip, I'm a bangie from Ubangy." There are, however, two first class (and totally forgotten) songs. "Too Late, Baby" by Sidney Easton and Gus Smith is a clever swing number and "Can't Help It" by Skippy Williams is a bluesy torch song with a fine melody...

It ain't right to love someone the way I love you like I do. It ain't right to love someone that don't love you.

I can't help it if I love you and you're cheatin' on me, too. It ain't right but I can't help it 'cause I do.

I'll wash and dry your dishes. I'll clean and make your bed. I'll work and slave around you 'Til my face turns cherry red.

I can't help it if I want to work and slave to be with you. It ain't right but I can't help it 'cause I do.


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