Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Over My Dead Body (1942)
Jason Cordry is a struggling novelist who's trying to think of a good ending. He always comes up with great ideas, but can never stick the landing, much to the frustration of his wife Pat. One day he comes up with a new idea for a story, The Mysterious Stranger, and he gets a real life opportunity to test it out when Pat's boss seemingly commits suicide. He
Over My Dead Body seems to be your typical 1940s mystery-comedy, and it is, but this is a truly strange film, that stands out from the rest of the pack with its off-the-wall story and execution.
The idea of a mystery writer stumbling upon a murder similar to one he wrote about, and becoming a character from the book to engineer a conclusion, to fix his writer's block, is a crazy one, as just as unique. While I couldn't help but think Jason is a moron for most of the movie, one can't fault his imagination or enthusiasm!
If there is a problem from all this, it's that the film is so terribly awkward for poor stupid Jason. He is a dope and he kinda deserves it, and he gets himself off the charges in a very neat way during the film's courtroom climax though.
They mystery is very good throughout, with a nice dose of intrigue and clues. While it doesn't seem like there are enough clues at first (especially since the first half focuses more on Jason's plan than actual investigation), this proves not to be the case, and I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly everything fitted together.
The only weak link is that the killer is exactly who you think it is. The three suspects are obvious, and while the writer may have had the idea of making multiple characters seem just as guilty to make the mystery still = to work out, it's still not exactly rocket science.
The comedy is effective here, and the dialogue is a real hoot! "Fine thing marrying a guy just to get a breadwinner"-: "A breadwinner? All I got was a crumb!"
"Darling, you can't go around killing people, you'll get arrested!"
While he can get a bit [overbearing] at times, Jason Cordry is a fun protagonist. His books also sound like a ton of fun, even if they are unfinished. I wanna read the adventures of The Mysterious Stranger, The Headless Chinaman, and Blood on the Skyscraper!
Pat is a cheery wife, with enough of a temper to batten/r down a barn door! The fights the couple get into are hilarious, as are the tearfully overdramatic reunions, as well as the strange things that lead up to them. For instance, they've just had a fight leads her to think he might've been hit by a truck, and is lying bleeding in a ditch somewhere is all "Oh darling, I'm =, I was so worried about you!"...then promptly smacks him around for not having the decency to be dead like she thought.
Their home is an interesting one, filled with a menagerie of cute animals, including a horse named Disaster. This leads to a scene that feels like a precursor to Mister Ed, and had me giggling [madly].
Even minor characters have life to them, and get their own unique quirks or amusing lines.
The acting here is all good. Milton Berle makes for an energetic lead, just the right dose of = without being [smackable]. Mary Beth Hughes is a fine straight man, getting plenty of her own amusing moments too. Noted actors like Reginald Denny and Milton Parsons have important roles, with the former being typically villainous, and the latter playing a nervous coward rather than a terrifying maniac. Lastly, African-American actor Wonderful Smith lives up to his name, and is an amusing presence.
I highly recommend Over My Dead Body for mystery fans. If you like silly entertainment, this is a great watch, and a perfect way to spend an hour...