Having Wonderful Crime (1945)
This comically slanted murder mystery from RKO plays like a Monogram Studios mystery with an extra few bucks in the budget to bring in a declining Pat O’Brien for added name value and a broader location shoot. It even has Monogram stalwart George Zucco in here to prove my point.
O’Brien stars here as attorney at law Michael J. Malone who happens to be close friends to a newley wed couple played by George Murphy and Carole Landis. The youngsters have a knack for getting involved in crimes and as amateur sleuths are always turning to O’Brien who fears being disbarred if he gets involved. Comedy situations are sure to follow when famed magician George Zucco goes missing.
Purely by chance the scriptwriters of this “B” plot have set up O’Brien to find himself running off with our poor man’s version of Nick and Nora to a Honeymoon hotel. It’s here Pat finds himself tied at the hip to Lenore Aubert who just happens to be the magician’s on stage helper. There’s a trunk full of magic tricks for some added sight gags and quite possibly may play host to a body or two before our 73 minutes are up.
The plot gets a little confusing down the stretch as O’Brien finds himself having to cover bar bills, figure out who is issuing phony checks and miraculously piece the mystery together to unveil the actual killer. It’s all one big stretch as we go down the stretch.
The whole film is light and fluffy and though it’s harmless fun I suspect it’s all rather forgettable and if it weren’t for taking the time to write something here to look back upon I may not recall this one at all in a year or two.
It’s directed by B specialist Edward Sutherland who just a couple years previously gave us the Universal comedy The Invisible Woman and Laurel and Hardy’s The Flying Deuces. Offering most of the laughs is long legged leading lady (say that 4 times in a row at a fast clip) Landis who is rather flighty in her pursuit of murderous adventure.
Looking at the fun side of trivia here we can spot Three Stooges nemesis Vernon Dent making a brief appearance in a comedy bit. Also two of our leading ladies have a connection with the Universal Monsters of whom I am so fond of. The Monsters not the ladies. First up is Lenore Aubert who attempts to secure the brain of Lou Costello for the skull of the Frankenstein Monster in the comedy duos classic 1948 film. Then we have Gloria Holden as a hotel guest who catches Pat’s eye. Holden played Dracula’s Daughter in the 1936 sequel to Bela’s original.
I never harp to much on Pat O’Brien as frankly I’ve never warmed to him. He’s no different here than he is in most of his other appearances. He barks on cue and can be caught acting at most any camera angle. This feature needed a lighter comedian in the role rather than Pat’s gruff style.
Like any film there’s usually something worthwhile and this is diverting enough to occupy a little over an hour of your time when it turns up on TCM.