Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Movie - Mr. and Mrs. North

Mr. and Mrs. North
Based on characters created by Frances and Richard Lockridge

Lieutenant Weigand, could you possibly find the murderer by Friday? (Pamela North)

I tried to read one of Frances and Richard Lockridge's Mr. and Mrs. North novels a little while back and I lost interest not too far in. Since watching this movie I've decided to give their fiction another shot.

What I find a bit odd is that Dashiell Hammett's solitary Thin Man book spawned six movies. Stuart Palmer's detective Hildegarde Withers appeared in about a dozen and a half books and wound up on the big screen seven times. As for Mr. and Mrs. North they only made it to film once, even though their adventures were chronicled in more than two dozen novels.

The movie could probably have been called just Mrs. North and no one would have objected. Gracie Allen is a bit before my time but I gather that she specialized in playing ditzy dames not unlike this incarnation of Pamela North. Allen steals the show here and William Post's role as Gerry North is pretty much relegated to that of straight man and suspect.

The problems start when the Norths come home one day to find a stiff stashed in a closet. As the story unfolds there are more and more bits of evidence uncovered that cast suspicion upon Mr. North. Of course, his devoted wife is not about to take this lying down, although at one point even her faith in him seems to waver a bit.

In the tradition of Lt. Columbo, James Anderson's Inspector Wilkins, and probably quite a few more I can' t think of right now, Pam North is one of those crime solvers who doesn't exactly inspire confidence but who does a great deal to figure out the whole mess before it's all over. If you haven't guessed it already things are played mostly for laughs here and there's a great running gag about a Fuller Brush salesman who actually has some information the police need but keeps getting tossed out on his you know what because everyone assumes he's just trying to make a buck.

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