Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Who Done It? (1942)

Abbott & Costello play two soda jerks who are really just killing time until they can get a chance to impress their local radio station with one of their murder mystery radioplays. They get lucky and gain entrance to the station, just in time for a reading of an entertaining murder mystery, but are then unlucky enough to become suspects when a murder is committed. Our two leads try to solve the case to make their names but, more importantly, try to stay alive while doing so.

Who Done It? is a lot of fun. It's a great mix of comedy and murder mystery and certainly works a LOT better than the earlier Hold That Ghost. The two leads are on great form and the plot pauses now and again for a few fun routines (including Lou being scammed a number of times by Walter Tetley, a discussion about volts and watts and some fun with well-timed recordings).

The script is by Stanley Roberts, Edmund Joseph and John Grant and it moves along at a fairly brisk pace indeed, helped by the fact that there are no musical numbers padding out the runtime. Erle C. Kenton returns to direct the laughs and certainly confirms that he's well-suited to the job.

But the script and direction and leads make up only half the story. Who Done It? benefits from a supporting cast that are all great fun and just as watchable as the leads. William Gargan and William Bendix are standard cops taking no nonsense and it's fun to see the rare times when A & C manage to get the better of them. Walter Tetley, as previously mentioned, gets a few great moments and then we have Mary Wickes easily holding her own in the role of Juliet Collins, a great character brought to life by a great actress.

It's not quite as good as the previous outing but this is entertaining enough from start to finish and easily stays a few notches above the weaker movies in the A & C filmography.



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