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Murder on a Honeymoon

Murder on a Honeymoon(1935)

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teaser Murder on a Honeymoon (1935)

This delightful RKO whodunit marked the last time actress Edna Mae Oliver would play Manhattan schoolteacher turned amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers. In Murder on a Honeymoon (1935), the persnickety spinster with a penchant for detection is enjoying a well-earned holiday on Catalina Island (RKO actually shelled out for location photography, giving the third film in the studio's Hildegarde Withers series a luxurious tropical air, a nice break from the claustrophobic confines of The Penguin Pool Murder [1933] and Murder on the Blackboard [1934]) when the suspicious death of one of her fellow vacationers pulls her into surrounding mystery. In Stuart Palmer's 1933 source novel, The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree, Miss Withers had to get along without the aid of her faithful (if perpetually vexed) police inspector amanuensis Oscar Piper but for the film adaptation screenwriters Seton I. Miller and Robert Benchley righted that injustice by trucking in Edna Mae Oliver's series costar James Gleason early on. The barbs fly as fast as the accusations in Murder on a Honeymoon, after which Oliver left RKO for work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For the next series entry, Murder on a Bridle Path (1936), the character would be played by Helen Broderick, who bequeathed the role to Zasu Pitts for the last two films in the franchise, The Plot Thickens (1936) and Forty Naughty Girls (1940).

By Richard Harland Smith

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