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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie: The Plot Thickens


The Plot Thickens
from a story
by Stuart Palmer
1936


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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