Behind the Eight Ball (1942)

Genres - Comedy, Musical, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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To say that Behind the Eight Ball is the best of the Ritz Brothers' quartet of Universal vehicles is faint praise indeed, but it's fact that the Ritzes pack an awful lot of laughs in the film's 60-minute running time. The story takes place at a summer theater in the Berkshire Mountains, where heroine Joan Barry (Carol Bruce) is staging a Broadway-bound musical comedy. Only one problem: two guest stars are shot and killed on two successive evenings, right in front of the audience. Hoping to solve the mystery, detective William Demarest demands that everyone -- actors and theatergoers alike -- return the following weekend to restage the show. But with no major performer willing to assume the fatal guest-star slot, Joan is forced to hire the Three Jolly Jesters (Al, Harry and Jimmy Ritz), Manhattan washroom attendants with showbiz aspirations. Though they're not keen on being set up as targets for the murderer, our three heroes gamely do as they're told -- and miracle of miracles, ultimately reveal that the killings are tied in with a nest of Axis spies! Highlights of this lightning-paced programmer include the Don Raye-Gene Paul hit song "Mister Five by Five" and the Ritz boys' specialty number "Charles Atlas Did It for Me".

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Keywords

criminal, decoy, detective, espionage, hero, investigation, murder, play [recreation]