This week’s mystery movie has been the 1945 (copyright 1944) Paramount Pictures film “Murder, He Says,” with Fred MacMurray, Helen Walker, Marjorie Main, Jean Heather, Porter Hall, Peter Whitney, Mabel Paige and Barbara Pepper, making it a mini “Double Indemnity” reunion. The screenplay was by Lou Breslow from a story by Jack Moffitt, with photography by Theodor Sparkuhl, art direction by Hans Dreier and William Flannery, with special effects by Gordon Jennings and Paul Lerpae. It was directed by George Marshall.
It’s available on DVD from TCM for $10.75.
The film opened in Los Angeles at the Paramount theaters on June 14, 1945, with “The Chicago Kid” and a short Technicolor feature, “Boogie-Woogie,” with Robert Benchley.
“Murder, He Says” was MacMurray’s last film at Paramount before going to Twentieth Century-Fox. MacMurray’s last Paramount film was supposed to have been “Girls Town,” but it wasn’t ready in time, according to an Edwin Schallert column (April 8, 1944) in the Los Angeles Times. “Murder” was originally conceived as a Bob Hope film.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times (June 15, 1945), Philip K. Scheuer called the film a “ghoulish farce” and said:
“Murder, He Says” is good trash — to me. Indeed, like certain of the hillbilly Fleages it introduces, it glows at times with an inspired madness. And let me put you right about the Fleagles: When they glow, they GLOW — and not with warmth or moonshine, either. They — just — plain — light — up.
An unsigned review in the New York Times (June 25, 1945) said:
As weird a marriage of mirth and shudders as has yet come out of Hollywood is unveiled in “Murder, He Says,” a Paramount item, which, for want of a more specific description, might be termed farce melodrama. For this offering, which began a stand at the Globe on Saturday, mixes mayhem and clowning with the happy abandon of a drunk suffering from dementia praecox. As a result, this caricature of a hillbilly family, who combine the seamier attributes of the Jukes and the Jeeter Lesters, dilutes the effects of numerous laughs with an always incredible plot.
And for our first mystery guest of 2017, we have a mystery gent and a telephone.
Update: This is George McKay.
For Tuesday, our mystery clerk has a mystery companion, who is somewhat alarmed.
Update: This is Ralph Peters, left, George McKay, center, and Tom Fadden.
Wednesday’s mystery guest is a rustic lady. (Update: Her film career began in 1912).
Update: This is Mabel Paige.
Brain Trust roll call: Lee Ann, Megan and Thom (after much deliberation, the mystery movie, Monday’s mystery guest and Tuesday’s mystery background actor in a plaid shirt), Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery guest), Don Danard (Tuesday’s mystery guest, half credit on mystery actor in plaid shirt) and Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery guest, Tuesday’s mystery guest and mystery actor in plaid shirt).
And for Thursday, we have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Jean Heather, better remembered as Lola Dietrichson in “Double Indemnity.”
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery woman), Don Danard (Wednesday’s mystery woman), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie and mystery woman), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and mystery cast), Diane Ely (Wednesday’s mystery woman/wrong movie) and Patrick (mystery movie and mystery guests).
And for Friday, we have a group of guests, some more mysterious than others.
Update: This is Marjorie Main, Fred MacMurray, Helen Walker and Peter Whitney.
Brain Trust roll call: Alan Warren (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guest), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guest), Dan Nather (mystery movie and mystery guests) and Patrick (Thursday’s mystery guest).