Keeping up the pace, this week I’m reviewing one or more movies each day so I can get ahead of the curve and take some time off. Praise Jesus for Amazon Prime Video, the mother-lode of bad movies. This is One Body Too Many from 1944 by way of Paramount Pictures, and I am dead sure I never saw it on the big screen. Details are from Wikipedia.
So, we have Haley as Albert L. Tuttle, insurance salesman par excellence. He’s about to score a big policy sale. He’s waited 30 days for his appointment with millionaire Cyrus J. Rutherford, who’s taking out a $200,000 life policy. Why a multi-millionaire is banking $200 K on his own life is never explained.
But Albert is a few days short. Rich Mr. Rutherford’s policy has already expired, and heirs are sitting around as attorney Morton Gellman (Bernard Nedell) reads the will. It’s a strange will. Somebody will get $500,000, and somebody will get $1.50. Except…
Except everybody has to stay in the house, cannot leave, until the body is interred. And the body must be laid to rest in peace under a glass dome, exposed to the stars. Else, the will be reversed. Who was to get the most will now get the least, etc. Anybody leaves before the interment, a few days hence, gets nothing. Attorney Gellman calls for a detective to come and guard the body and ensure it is not interfered with in the meantime.
Meanwhile, Merkil the butler (Lugosi) makes coffee for everybody. He has handy in the kitchen a bottle of rat poison. “There are too many rats in this house. They should be done away with,” he announces, ending the sentence with an preposition.
Blanche Yurka is Matthews, the cook.
Throughout the movie Merkil keeps offering everybody coffee, but each time there is a reason they decide not to drink any.
The detective arrives and never makes it to the front door. He’s chopped by somebody and secreted away so he can’t cause trouble. Albert arrives and is mistaken for the detective. When he realizes he is expected to babysit a stiff he makes plans to depart post haste, visions of a huge policy fee having evaporated.
But pretty Carol Dunlap (Parker) urges him to stay. There’s chemistry.
Skipping all the plot details, attorney Gellman talks Albert into hiding out in the casket, this after the body mysteriously goes missing.
Meanwhile, a fearsome threesome plot to dispose of the body, coffin and all, not realizing Albert is in the coffin.
More intrigue. There is much going in and out and through secret passageways and winding up in strange bedrooms. Gellman is murdered, Albert is accused of another murder and is locked inside the observatory atop the sumptuous Rutherford mansion. He gets rescued by Carol.
The real killer scoops up Carol and carries her to the top of the observatory, planning to dump her several stories down. Albert climbs to the rescue. The dome rotates, the killer is swept off and to his doom.
Carol coaxes Albert, against his better judgment, into one of the secret passages and closes the door. Merkil and Matthews drink the coffee.
Yes, it’s one of those comedies where people die. This should get bad marks due to its poor print quality, but I will let that pass. Obviously the plot is a complete contrivance, devolving into a sequence of episodes. It’s chances of becoming a cult classic are dim.