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Having Wonderful Crime
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Having Wonderful Crime

The lighthearted 1945 film Having Wonderful Crime harkens back to the delightful screwball comedies made popular during the 1930s such as It Happened One Night (1934) and Bringing Up Baby (1938). Pat O'Brien plays lawyer Michael J. Malone whose two married friends Jake and Helene Justus (played by George Murphy and Carole Landis) are always causing trouble by dragging him into their amateur sleuthing adventures. When Malone follows the couple to the rustic Lenhart Lodge on the trail of a vanished stage magician, the trio find themselves in the middle of a madcap murder mystery, mingling with all sorts of eccentric characters.

Having Wonderful Crime was based on a book of the same title written by Craig Rice (a pseudonym for Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig). Rice made the screwball mystery her specialty with wacky characters, outrageous situations and a sense of pure fun. The central Malone character was very popular with readers and made his appearance in many of her books and short stories. Though the movie takes liberties with the book¿s plot, the amiable characters remain true to the spirit of Rice's original creation.

The beauty and charm of Carole Landis leap off the screen in her role as Helene. However, her bright comic performance is a contrast to the dark turn her life took just three years after the film¿s release. After a promising start with steady work in B movies, Landis found her career waning in the mid-1940s. The 29-year-old actress had two failed marriages behind her, and her third marriage was on the brink of divorce. Her married lover, actor Rex Harrison, was also reportedly on the verge of ending their adulterous relationship. To make things worse, Landis had suffered serious health problems for years brought on by malaria and pneumonia she had picked up while working overseas. In July of 1948, Landis left a suicide note and took a lethal overdose of Seconal. Landis¿ tragic life proved inspirational to author (and Landis' personal friend) Jacqueline Susann. Susann based the character of the beautiful but fragile Jennifer North in her blockbuster novel Valley of the Dolls at least partially on Landis.

Co-star George Murphy, who plays Landis' husband, had a more positive turn of events in his life and career. Having already served as president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s, Murphy retired from acting in 1952 and was eventually elected Senator of California in 1964 and served for six years.

Producer: Robert Fellows
Director: A. Edward Sutherland
Screenplay: Howard J. Green, Parke Levy, Stewart Sterling, Craig Rice (story)
Cinematography: Frank Redman
Film Editing: Gene Milford
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Alfred Herman
Music: Leigh Harline
Cast: Pat O'Brien (Michael J. Malone), George Murphy (Jake Justus), Carole Landis (Helene Justus), Lenore Aubert (Gilda Mayfair), George Zucco (The Great Movel), Anje Berens (Phyllis Gray).
BW-71m.

by Andrea Passafiume

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