Saturday, December 10, 2011

Movie: Murder on a Honeymoon

Murder on a Honeymoon
From a story by Stuart Palmer

I never look at a corpse on an empty stomach. (Inspector Oscar Piper)

The worst thing about the movie appearances of Stuart Palmer's amateur detective Hildegarde Withers is that there weren't enough of them, especially the ones starring Edna May Oliver, who played the role in three of the six installments.

This time around Oliver and James Gleason, who played the crabby Inspector Piper in all of the Withers movies, really hit their stride, following Penguin Pool Murder, the series opener, and Murder on a Blackboard, the second film. The comic antics seem to have been ramped up a few notches and I can't help wondering if it has anything to do with the fact that humorist Robert Benchley had a hand in the writing.

Things get underway with Miss Withers on a flight to a resort on Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California. Before the plane arrives one of her fellow passengers expires and it's not long before foul play is suspected. Though the Inspector is back in New York he finds out about the death and has access to information that suggests that Miss Withers might be in danger. Thus he must go west, which dispenses with the problem of how to get our crime-fighting duo together.

Once they do they proceed to untangle the complicated web of plot with the usual difficulties thrown in their way. Of course there's no shortage of the expected bickering and fussing with each other as well. Oscar the grouch is typically gruff and somewhat clueless and its Miss Withers who once again does much of the actual crime solving.

There's only one more of the Withers movies that I haven't seen and then that well will be dry. But it looks like Turner Classic Movies is planning a marathon of Thin Man movies later this month so all hope is not lost in classic comic mystery land.

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