An odd title? Not really unless you look at the cast list and see that Randolph Scott is starring in a Nancy Drew styled murder mystery.
Detective Randolph Scott and his romantic interest Lynn Bari take a back seat to a trio of siblings played by Peggy Ann Garner ( A Tree Grows In Brooklyn), Dean Stockwell ( Just about everything) and Connie Marshall ( Mr. Blandings Builds…). They’re the children of widow Bari who just happens to be a very successful murder mystery writer with 28 books to her credit. They also have vivid imaginations and are a bit beyond their youthful years thanks to reading Mom’s books and are seemingly in search of a mystery.
They get just that when gunshots are overheard in the neighborhood prompting them to note the time though they argue over the shots just coming from a car backfiring. Imagine their excitement when they find out that there has indeed been a murder committed on the street they live. Believing the police won’t be able to solve the mystery and surely there is a wrongly accused killer, the kids set out to best the detective assigned to the case, Randolph Scott and his snarly partner, James Gleason.
The kids quickly take control of the case and begin their search for clues while at the same time thinking maybe they can get Scott interested in Bari. Not so much that they like him, it’s just to keep him occupied and out of their way. That will no doubt change as the film moves along. Bari at first isn’t overly enamored of Scott. His questioning of her children is a bit on the harsh side prompting one of the kids to quietly comment to the others, “Do Irene and Cary Grant go for each other right off the bat?”
Once the kids get their hands on some incriminating documents that the murder victim had possessed and the killer is after, the plot is going to culminate with Scott going into action to save our would be detectives of the under age variety.
This tame murder mystery works primarily because of the trio of child stars involved. Especially Garner as the oldest daughter who was so wonderful in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Stockwell who is a perfect rascal as the youngest and refuses to be left out of the clandestine adventure. He too has a great line when finding an unnamed broken record in a trash can that he intends to piece back together. Gleason points out it may be Sinatra to which Stockwell angrily replies, “I’d hate to waste all my time on a groaner.” Pure delight!
Accepting Scott in this film isn’t overly hard but let’s face it, he belongs in western gear and atop a horse hunting down the vermin who committed the murder with guns ready to at the hips. This proved to be Scott’s second last non western. The final film was 1947’s Christmas Eve. From there on out till 1962, he was strictly in the saddle. For a fun bit of musical history on Scott and his fellow cowboys, click here.
Having moved over to 20th Century Fox from being a long time Warner’s contract director is Lloyd Bacon taking over camera duties here for this fun murder mystery that fits the audience looking for a comical slant to the murder mystery with the youngsters front and center.
No I don’t have a copy of this one in my vast collection of titles but did find it right here on line. Give it a go.