Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Penguin Pool Murder - 1932

The Penguin Pool Murder
Based on characters created by Stuart Palmer

Funny how simple the answers are when you know them.
(Hildegarde Withers)

Movies starring Stuart Palmer's amateur detective Hildegarde Withers were all the rage during the Thirties and this is the one that kicked things off. Edna May Oliver stars here and in the next two episodes and Helen Broderick and Zasu Pitts took over the role for the last three movies of the series. Though she is a schoolteacher and a civilian, Withers works in tandem with the gruff inspector Oscar Piper to solve crimes and trade mildly disparaging wisecracks. Gleason starred as Piper in all six of the Withers movies.

These movies were not meant to be taken too seriously and The Penguin Pool Murder is no exception. Miss Withers just happens to be visiting the aquarium with her students when a gentleman of the lifeless persuasion is found in the penguin pool. We viewers have already seen some of the background leading up to this murder, but there are various twists and turns that keep things hopping until the no-nonsense schoolmarm finally figures it all out. Piper, as usual, is a few steps behind, but give him an a for effort anyway.

These are not movies that I really watch for the plotting and this one, which gets off to quite a slow start, was more of the same. When Withers and Piper get into crime-solving mode and start pecking at each other things perk up considerably. Recommended, as are the other three in the series that I've seen thus far, as long as you're not someone who takes your mystery movies too seriously.