One Body Too Many

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One Body Too Many


English   Country: USA   Year: 1944

One Body Too Many

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Frank McDonald


Jack Haley; Jean Parker; Bela Lugosi




An insurance saleman is hired to protect a millionaire. Black & White.


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User Reviews


(Average=2.33 out of 5; Total Number=3)

Oi Vey!!!! (rating=2)

The previous 2 reviewers have outlined the plot very well so not much more can be said about that. I'd just to tell the guys who are considering purchasing the Alpha DVD that the quality here isn't too good. Source material was obviously VHS tape (you can see the occasional video drop-outs) and it looks very much like an LP version at that. Very poor definition. Could have been a lot sharper. Also the print is very contrasty. The blacks are REALLY black and the whites are blinding. There is also a considerable amount of lag. When a white face moves against a black background it leaves a kind of "comet's tail" to put it loosely. Also various other things appear.... like a cluster of white "arrowheads" pointing to the right (as if someone just pressed the fast-forward button on the VCR) or just the occasional flash of pure white jumps out at you. The movie itself is one of the better comedy thrillers with some funny lines... many of them from Bela... but a poor transfer. (sigh!)

Classic B Movie Fun (rating=2)

One Body Too Many a 1944 black and white movie is not an especially good movie. BUT, it is a fun movie. It is a silly horror/comedy type B movie that became the meat and potatoes of so many early studios. I love it. Jack Haley is Albert Tuttle a nose to the grindstone insurance man who has an appointment with an old rich recluse. He arrives at his mansion and is seen in by the butler (Bela Lugosi). He is shown into his clients office and immediately starts his spiel to the back of a chair and smoke coming from a lit cigar. However, unbeknownst to Tuttle the client is dead and in his coffin in the office. Tuttle lays his brief case on the closed coffin before he realizes just what is in the room. When he does try to get out, he can't open the door, etc. This movie is filled with every conceivable cliche imaginable. But that's the fun of it. A huge dark creepy house, a will to be read, a suspicious looking butler and cook, a beautiful damsel in distress, a dim witted detective, a houseful of greedy family members of the deceased, murders, trick doors, screams and noises at night, etc. Of course, a very nervous and reluctant hero. This kind of movie would be nothing without Lyle Talbot and he is here as the family member who thinks timid Jack Haley has something to hide.I have had this movie for years and every once in a while I dust it off to watch it again because sometimes you need a little harmless fun. (~.~)

Several Thrills Too Few... (rating=3)

This is yet another of the gathered-for-the-reading-of-the-will-in-the-spooky-house with-secret-passages-and-a-murderer subgenre. And while I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who legitimately can hate these kind of movies, there are admittedly some that work far better than others. One Body Too Many finds middle ground.

It begins with some cleverness in setting up the scenario. The will's gimmick is farfetched but assured an offbeat night of criminal mayhem: The deceased, an astrologer, wishes to be buried above ground so that the stars shine down on him. If anything happens so that he is not, then the heir who was supposed to get the most will instead get the least, and vice versa. The body disappears, then reappears, then someone else is murdered... it's all expectedly, even appropriately, convoluted.

Our hero is a life insurance salesman who is mistaken for the detective assigned to guard the body from shenanigans. And there is real inventiveness in placing a life insurance salesman in this situation, where people are sure to be bumped off. Unfortunately, this knowing wink to the audience is barely explored at all. The hero himself is an average-looking guy, more likable and less wimpy than many 40's B heroes. And he is surrounded by a capable, if unspectacular, cast.

Lugosi is wasted, although his stock Ominous Butler character is interestingly played for laughs this go-round, ready and willing to bump off anybody who anyone else thinks needs bumping off. Watch out for the coffee.

This is of course, a comedy/mystery, as every picture in this genre has been since The Cat and the Canary in the 20's. And the comedy is generally the determining factor in how watchable these kind of films are. Here it is not too bad, consisting less of the typical scared mugging and awkward pratfalls than many similar efforts. Only in its dull, protracted middle section does the film lose its way, as the hero gets lost in the ubiquitous secret passageways, caught in a wicker basket with a litter of kittens and wearing only a towel. Don't ask.

There are a number of good scenes, including one where the hero, hiding in a coffin, is carried off and dumped in a pool. The movie ends with a suspenseful chase and confrontation atop the observatory. But there is not enough made of the good ideas in the script, and too much damage is done to the whole by the weak or old ideas in the script. You've seen much of it before, so it's not quite worth a purchase. Close but no cigar.

See also: The Cat and the Canary; Black Cat (1941); Night Monster; Old Dark House; The Monster Walks; The Gorilla; Seven Keys To Baldpate; The Bat Whispers; and many, many more, if you are so inclined.