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You'd Be Surprised (1926)

Passed | | Comedy, Mystery | 25 September 1926 (USA)
A diamond is stolen at a houseboat party given by the district attorney. He gives the thief a chance to return it by putting an empty box on a table and turning out the lights. When the ... See full summary »


Arthur Rosson


Jules Furthman (story), Jules Furthman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview:
Edward Martindel ... Mr. White - District Attorney
Earle Williams ... Mr. Black - Deputy District Attorney (as Earl Williams)
Tom McGuire ... Inspector Brown (as Thomas McGuire)
Dorothy Sebastian ... Dorothy
Raymond Griffith ... Mr. Green - The Coroner
Granville Redmond Granville Redmond ... Grey - Butler / Deputy Coroner


A diamond is stolen at a houseboat party given by the district attorney. He gives the thief a chance to return it by putting an empty box on a table and turning out the lights. When the lights are turned back on the box is gone, and the district attorney has a knife in his back and is quite dead. The police and the coroner arrive. There are several attempts made on the life of the coroner. Ruth Whitman is found hiding in a grandfather-clock, holding the gem box. She claims the box was pushed into her hands and she was pushed into the clock. The district attorney's butler/valet tells the coroner he saw who killed his employer and a few minutes later he is also murdered. The mystery deepens. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Mystery



User Reviews

Master comedian, good comedy

Raymond Griffith was a very popular comedian of the late silent era, who is now forgotten because very few of his films have survived. He also embodies the cliché of the silent-film star whose voice is inappropriate for talkies: due to a bronchial ailment, Griffith could not speak above a whisper. After a couple of brief sound-film appearances, Griffith went on to a successful career as a producer at 20th Century-Fox.

Griffith usually played a top-hatted, opera-cloaked sharpster who is always one jump ahead of everybody else in the movie. In "You'd Be Surprised" his character is a bit more flappable than usual: a jug falls on his head, a door hits him in the face, and a bullet narrowly misses him.

"You'd Be Surprised" is a neat comedy which may have inspired the board game Clue (or Cluedo, as we call it in Britain). "You'd Be Surprised" features a murder at a posh party, and (just like in Cluedo) most of the suspects are named for colours: White, Brown, Grey, Green.

The entire film takes place aboard a houseboat, during a party in which the host is murdered and the famous Sultana diamond necklace is stolen.

All the evidence points to Dorothy Sebastian as the murderer. But she can't possibly be guilty, because she's a beautiful young woman ... and the rules of film comedy dictate that beautiful young women are never guilty of murder. Griffith plays the coroner who wants to solve the murder in a hurry, because he's got tickets to the opera.

This film is quite funny, and it benefits from Griffith's typically surreal lapses of logic. At one point, he steps out of the room and returns a moment later with six people (chosen at random) who will serve as the coroner's jury. How he managed to find these people aboard a houseboat is never explained. One of the jurors is an Italian hot-dog vendor who looks and acts remarkably like Chico Marx ... and he keeps Griffith supplied with hot dogs (with mustard and sauerkraut) all during the murder inquest.

An ironic footnote: the silent-film actor Granville Redmond, who plays a phony deaf-mute in this movie, actually *was* a deaf-mute. Like Griffith's stardom, Redmond's career was ruined by the arrival of talkies. One of the most ironic moments in silent-film history occurs late in "You'd Be Surprised", as Redmond and Griffith hold a normal conversation on screen: since this is a silent film, we don't realise that (in real life) Griffith didn't have a voice and Redmond wasn't able to hear him anyway! Richard Arlen (who would star in "Wings" less than a year later) makes a brief uncredited appearance in "You'd Be Surprised" as a crime photographer, and he demonstrates real star presence in his small role.

The title cards were co-written by Robert Benchley, whose low-key comedy style was similar to Griffith's.

SPOILER: "You'd Be Surprised" claims to be a comedy whodunnit, but the solution to the "mystery" is arbitrary and disappointing. Griffith grabs a party guest seemingly at random, and denounces him as the murderer ... but we never see Griffith's process of deduction. Still, this is a comedy, and it's pretty funny, so I'll rate "You'll Be Surprised" 7 out of 10 and recommend it to all lovers of silent-film comedy.

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Release Date:

25 September 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

You'd Be Surprised See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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