The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939)

Genres - Comedy, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Run Time - 74 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A longtime fan of comedians George Burns and Gracie Allen, "Philo Vance" creator S. S. Van Dyne wrote a tailor-made screenplay for the team, which emerged on-screen as The Gracie Allen Murder Case. The Paramount studio executives decided to dispense with the services of George Burns, leaving scatterbrained Gracie on her own to match wits (?) with urbane private detective Philo Vance (Warren William). The story proper gets under way when Bill Brown (Kent Taylor) stumbles onto a murder scene and is accused of the crime. Fortuitously, Gracie Allen was also in the vicinity when the killing took place, but her garbled version of what she witnessed (or thinks she witnessed) is of no help whatsoever to the authorities. Philo Vance offers to protect Gracie from the murder and to try to make heads or tails of her "assistance", but even he is driven to distraction by our heroine's relentless stupidity, especially when she insists upon referring to him as Fido Vance. As enjoyable as she is in small doses, Gracie Allen is a bit much to take in this film; fortunately, the basic mystery is good one, even if the identity of the murderer is fairly obvious from the start (the actor in question played so many "surprise killers" during his career that, by 1939, the bloom was off the rose). After The Gracie Allen Murder Case ran its course in the theaters, S. S. Van Dine published a novelized version of the story, restoring George Burns to the proceedings and wisely cutting back on Gracie Allen's imbecilities.



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