The Man Who Wouldn't Die (1942)

Genres - Crime, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Release Date - May 1, 1942 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

20th Century-Fox's The Man Who Wouldn't Die is based on No Coffin for the Corpse, a "Merlini the Great" mystery penned by Clayton Rawson. Alas, magician-sleuth Merlini has been reduced to an expository bit role, and the property has been converted into a "Michael Shayne" series entry. In the first scene, three men-industrialist Dudley Wolff (Paul Harvey), Wolff's secretary Dunning (Robert Emmet Keane) and research scientist Dr. Haggard (Henry Wilcoxon)-are shown disposing of a corpse in the dead of night. Shortly afterward, Wolff's daughter Catherine (Marjorie Weaver) shows up unexpectedly, with news of her recent marriage. Wolff and his confreres manage to keep their body-burying activities a secret from Catherine, but later that night her bedroom is invaded by a gun-wielding stranger-who happens to be the "body" buried in Scene One! Deducing that something is amiss, Catherine summons her old friend, detective Michael Shayne (Lloyd Nolan), to come to the Wolff mansion to investigate. So that Mike can move about without arousing suspicion, Catherine pretends that he's her new husband-which, of course, inevitably leads to chaos and confusion when the real hubby (Richard Derr) shows up. Before this happens, however, another murder takes place, apparently committed by that very active corpse, and it is this plus several randomly placed clues which prompts Mike to consult his magician pal Radini for advice. The suspect list includes Wolff's young wife Anne (Helene Reynolds) and Phillips the butler (Billy Bevan), while the "official" authorities are represented by bucolic Chief Meek (Olin Howlin) and dour coroner Larsen (Jeff Corey). More interesting for its supporting cast than its story, The Man Who Wouldn't Die is one of the lesser Michael Shayne mysteries, with Shayne seeming to be arbitrarily inserted in the proceedings.



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