Having Wonderful Crime
Cast & Crew
Chicago attorney and lothario Michael J. Malone is continually entangled in the crime-solving antics of his friends, newlyweds Jake and Helene Justus. While eluding the police after one of their escapades backfires, the three take refuge in a theater in which Movel the Magician is performing. When Movel fails to reappear during his disappearing act, the police are called and the three friends flee. To avoid the law, Mike insists on joining his friends on their honeymoon at the Lenhart lodge. While driving to the lodge, Helene accidentally runs a car driven by Gilda Mayfair, Movel's assistant, off the road. After Helene offers Gilda and her large trunk a ride to the lodge, a man wearing sunglasses follows them. At the lodge, Jake jokes that Gilda's trunk must harbor a dead body. When Zacharias, the hotel valet, informs Gilda that a man is looking for her, she asks Helene to help conceal her identity, and Helene registers her at the hotel as Mrs. Mike Malone. Arriving at the lodge, the man in sunglasses directs Zach to deliver the trunk to his room, but Mike intercedes and orders it delivered to the Malone suite. When Gilda sees the man in the lobby, she faints and is put to bed in Mike's room. Soon after, Lance Richards, another of Movel's assistants, comes to the hotel and traces the trunk to Mike's suite. When Jake enters the room, Lance hides on the balcony and is seen by Gilda, who waves him away. Upon opening the trunk, Mike and Jake discover that it is filled with Movel's props. In a hollow cane, they find a check for $50,000 made out to Movel from Elizabeth Lenhart, one of the sisters who owns the hotel. After Jake and Helene visit the bar and Mike goes to the lobby and meets diver Phyllis Grey, who is at the hotel to compete in a water carnival, the man in sunglasses enters Gilda's room and demands to know who tried to kill him. As he searches for the check, the man is stabbed in the back by a sword and Gilda panics and goes to Lance's room. Upon returning to their room, Jake and Helene find the man's body stuffed in the trunk and decide to solve the case. Finding Mike on the pier with Phyllis, the amateur sleuths pull him back to the room, where they discover that the trunk is now missing. After Mike calls the front desk to report the theft, he finds a poster of Movel and realizes that the man in sunglasses was the magician. Soon after, Winslow, the hotel manager, comes to apologize for the missing trunk. The three then begin to search the hotel for the trunk. Mike spots it in the driveway just as Jake calls for him to help rescue Helene, who is stuck in the laundry chute. After rescuing Helene, they run outside and find the trunk gone. When a concrete slab comes crashing down at them from the roof, they go to investigate and find Zach, who claims that he is investigating a call about a man on the roof. Remembering that Phyllis is alone on the lake, Mike runs back to the pier but is rejected angrily by her. He is then joined by Gilda, who asks for his help and explains that she fears that Lance, her fiancé, killed Movel out of jealousy. Mike and Gilda go to Lance's room at the motor court but find it deserted. Later, a search in the woods turns up Lance's unconscious body and after he regains consciousness, he is taken to Mike's room to recuperate. While Helene watches Lance, Mike and Jake go to the Lenhart estate to question Elizabeth Lenhart. Posing as window washers, they are surprised to find Helene interviewing Elizabeth. After Helene informs her that the police suspect that Movel was killed by his assistants, Elizabeth writes a check for $50,000 to hire a lawyer to defend them. When Helene later presents the check to Mike, however, it is blank. The next day at the water carnival, Elizabeth borrows a pen from her sister, Myra, to write Mike another check. After the ink fades, Mike and Jake begin to suspect Myra of filling the pen with invisible ink. When Mike receives a note from Zach, asking to meet him at the boat house, he proceeds there and finds Winslow and Zach's dead body. Mike then taunts Winslow into confessing that he killed Movel because Myra, who disapproved of her sister's extravagances, paid him $10,000 to retrieve the check that Elizabeth had written to Movel. After adding that he killed Zach because the valet knew too much, Winslow pulls out a gun and forces Mike to climb into the trunk, which he then locks and dumps in the lake. When Jake and Helene come looking for their friend, Winslow ties them up and locks them in the cabin of a motor boat, planning to stage their suicide through asphyxiation. After Winslow turns on the boat's motor and departs, Mike climbs onto the pier and frees his friends, explaining that the trunk had a trick bottom. Returning to the hotel in the company of a police officer, the crime-fighters arrest Winslow.
Charles D. Brown
Wm. "wee Willie" Davis
Rosemary La Planche
Mary Jane Dolan
Albert S. D'agostino
Howard J. Green
Jean L. Speak
James G. Stewart
Vernon L. Walker
Having Wonderful Crime
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).
by Andrea Passafiume
Having Wonderful Crime
Not so fast, my skirt's too tight!- Helene
Oh, I told you you didn't know how to dress for a murder.- Jake
This picture was also reviewed as Having a Wonderful Crime. According to a pre-production news item in Los Angeles Times, Richard Wallace was initially slated to direct this film. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Citizen-News, the film was shot on location at Malibu Lake, Del Monte, Carmel and the Lakeside Country Club in California. Gloria Holden appeared as Anje Berens for the first time in this picture. Carole Landis was borrowed from Twentieth-Century Fox to appear in this film.