Super-Sleuth


1h 10m 1937
Super-Sleuth

Brief Synopsis

A movie detective gets carried away with his role and starts trying to solve real-life crimes.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

When popular, egotistical movie detective Willard "Bill" Martin states publicly that he could do a better job of solving murder cases than the Los Angeles police force, he aggravates not only the police, but Mary Strand, the head of his studio's publicity department, as well. Bill's screen "super sleuth" persona suddenly takes on reality when he receives a death threat from the "Poison Pen," an at-large celebrity killer who wants to murder Bill in retaliation for his last bad movie. After being shot at through the window of a Hollywood nightclub, a cocky, determined Bill goes with Mary, who secretly loves the dumb star, to see amateur criminologist and house-of-horrors owner Professor Herman, not realizing that Herman is, in fact, the Poison Pen. The next day, Herman shows up at Bill's movie shoot and, during a chase scene, accidentally kills Bill's co-star, Ralph Waring. Because Waring had fought earlier with his stand-in, Larry Frank, Larry is arrested for the crime. Convinced of Larry's innocence, Bill continues his confused efforts to find the Poison Pen, while Herman continues his poorly aimed murder attempts on Bill. Finally, Mary, to protect Bill from himself, tricks him into getting arrested and jailed. Bill "outsmarts" her, however, by calling Herman to bail him out. When Mary deduces that Herman is the Poison Pen, she and Warts, Bill's servant, notify the police and rush to Herman's "Crime Doesn't Pay" horror gallery, where, aided by Herman's clumsiness, they rescue Bill and catch the Poison Pen.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Jul 16, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Super Sleuth


Jack Oakie's gift for broad comedy was a perfect fit for the role of an egotistical movie star who decides to play detective off-screen when he and his fellow stars start getting poison pen letters threatening to kill them over bad acting. His detective skills are no threat to suspects like Eduardo Cianelli, an erudite wax-museum proprietor, but they sure manage to get in the way of real detective Edgar Kennedy and studio publicity woman Ann Sothern. Oakie would always contend that his inexpensive comedies helped the various studios at which he worked - RKO in this case - finance more ambitious, artsy projects. Certainly his "hail fellow well met" persona was a hit with audiences. As he plays off Cianelli's menace, Kennedy's slow burn and Sothern's wise-cracking he's pretty much irresistible. It also helps that the picture gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the RKO back lot as the killer stalks Oakie to the set of his latest picture. RKO remade the film in 1946 as Genius at Work, with Wally Brown and Alan Carney as on-screen detectives, Anne Jefrreys as the studio flack and Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi as suspects, but most fans give this version the nod for pure comedy.

By Frank Miller
Super Sleuth

Super Sleuth

Jack Oakie's gift for broad comedy was a perfect fit for the role of an egotistical movie star who decides to play detective off-screen when he and his fellow stars start getting poison pen letters threatening to kill them over bad acting. His detective skills are no threat to suspects like Eduardo Cianelli, an erudite wax-museum proprietor, but they sure manage to get in the way of real detective Edgar Kennedy and studio publicity woman Ann Sothern. Oakie would always contend that his inexpensive comedies helped the various studios at which he worked - RKO in this case - finance more ambitious, artsy projects. Certainly his "hail fellow well met" persona was a hit with audiences. As he plays off Cianelli's menace, Kennedy's slow burn and Sothern's wise-cracking he's pretty much irresistible. It also helps that the picture gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the RKO back lot as the killer stalks Oakie to the set of his latest picture. RKO remade the film in 1946 as Genius at Work, with Wally Brown and Alan Carney as on-screen detectives, Anne Jefrreys as the studio flack and Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi as suspects, but most fans give this version the nod for pure comedy. By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although the onscreen credits state that the screenplay was "from the play by Harry Segall," other contemporary sources indicate that Segall's story was a screen original. Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" lists Frank M. Thomas in the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed.