Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie: The Plot Thickens

The Plot Thickens
from a story
by Stuart Palmer

Now don't be anymore stupid than usual, Oscar.
(Hildegarde Withers)

The tone is light as Miss Withers and Inspector Oscar Piper team up again to solve a series of crimes. It starts with the murder of a wealthy man whose body is found in his study and leads to the attempted theft of a certain rare item from days of yore. The inspector barks and grumbles throughout, of course, while Withers does much of the heavy lifting as far as the detection goes. I didn't think this particular flick was so great as far as plot goes and there were some coincidences that were a bit hard to swallow but I don't think plotting is the primary appeal of these movies anyway.

It looks like there were a total of six Stuart Palmer adaptations produced during the Thirties. I've seen three, each with a different Hildegarde Withers. James Gleason apparently starred as Piper in all of them. The consensus seems to be that Edna May Oliver was the best Miss Withers and I won't argue that point. I also liked Helen Broderick, who took over the role for Murder on a Bridle Path. As for ZaSu Pitts, I'm not sure what other kind of roles she starred in but I don't think her ditzy approach to Withers quite did the trick. But it's worth a look even so.

For another take on this one, check out this review at MysteryFile or a contemporary one from the New York Times.

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