Remains to Be Seen


1h 29m 1953

Brief Synopsis

A girl vocalist and her apartment manager get mixed up in a creepy Park Avenue murder and find themselves facing danger at every turn.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
May 15, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Remains to Be Seen by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, as produced on the stage by Leland Hayward (New York, 3 Oct 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,954ft (5 reels)

Synopsis

Waldo Williams, the building manager of a Park Avenue apartment house, would rather practice his drums in the basement than deal with the complaints of the fussy, rich tenants. One morning he discovers eccentric tenant Travis Revercombe dead, and has just called the police when Benjamin Goodman, Revercombe's attorney, arrives and instructs Waldo to send for Dr. Glenson, another tenant. Glenson says that Revercombe, who suffered from heart trouble and diabetes, appears to have died of an overdose of insulin. The medical examiner arrives and corroborates Glenson's opinion, and the men move the body into the bedroom. When the undertaker arrives, however, he discovers a carving knife stuck in the corpse's chest. Revercombe's estranged niece, singer Jody Revere, arrives that evening, and takes the news of her uncle's death coldly, telling Goodman that Revercombe had once propositioned her mother. Goodman tells Jody that her uncle left her the bulk of his estate, but she refuses to take the money. Music lover Waldo is thrilled to meet Jody, and as they sing and dance to one of her recordings, she is impressed with his skill as a drummer. Jody decides to stay in Revercombe's apartment while she tries to contact her bandleader, PeeWee, who is on the road. While Jody is in the bedroom changing clothes, a secret panel in the wall opens and an elegant woman enters and observes her unnoticed for a moment. The next morning, Goodman again urges Jody to accept her inheritance, saying that the money will otherwise go to a language research organization run by Valeska Chauvel, who is coming over to meet her. Valeska, who is the same woman who entered the bedroom the previous day, tells Jody about her plan to develop a universal language, but Jody is not impressed and decides to take her inheritance and give it to the American Guild of Variety Artists. After Valeska leaves in anger, homicide detective Lt. O'Flair brings the news that preliminary autopsy reports on Revercombe indicate foul play. O'Flair questions the doorman, ex-convict Ben, who says that tenant Kyle Manning, an artist whose recent exhibition had been shut down by the prudish Revercombe, was seen near the apartment and left town suddenly that morning. Unnoticed by O'Flair and the others, Valeska sneaks back and listens through a secret panel as Jody describes her tendency to sleepwalk whenever she hears music. That evening, Waldo plays his drums for Jody, and when PeeWee calls with the news that the band's drummer has been drafted, she has Waldo audition for him over the phone. Later, as Jody sleeps, Valeska enters the bedroom carrying a music box, which she uses to lure the sleepwalking Jody onto the balcony. Before Valeska can push Jody over the railing, however, Waldo plays a record in the living room and Jody wanders away. Realizing she is asleep, Waldo declares his love and proposes to Jody. After she returns to bed, Waldo goes to the building office and inspects the blueprints for the apartment. He then enters the deserted apartment in the building next door, and while searching for hidden passageways, discovers Valeska's body in a closet. At that moment, Jody hears a sound and finds Manning in the living room, trying to warn her. Waldo hears her scream, and rushes in after she faints. He leaves her with Dr. Glenson, who is preparing a sedative when the police call Jody to warn her about him. The sinister doctor then confesses that he tricked Revercombe into believing he had diabetes so that he could arrange an overdose of insulin. Glenson adds that he was in cahoots with Valeska, who was about to leave him and run away with Revercombe. Glenson then killed Revercombe, but Valeska got even with him by putting a knife in the corpse. He is about to kill Jody when O'Flair comes to the door, and Jody taps out a drum code for danger that Waldo taught her. Waldo knocks Glenson over, and while the doctor shoots it out with the police, PeeWee calls to say that Waldo is the band's new drummer. Jody announces her intention to marry Waldo, and they kiss.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
May 15, 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Remains to Be Seen by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, as produced on the stage by Leland Hayward (New York, 3 Oct 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,954ft (5 reels)

Articles

Remains to Be Seen


MGM reunited one of its most popular screen teams of the time for Remains to Be Seen (1953), a comedy-mystery about a Park Avenue apartment building manager (and sometime drummer) with a mysteriously dead tenant on his hands, and the jazz band singer niece of the deceased he becomes involved with. The storyline involves disputed inheritances, and the usual sort of machinations that go with that plot device, but in the end, America's Sweethearts June Allyson and Van Johnson end up in each other's arms as expected.

This was the last of five movies in which Johnson and Allyson starred together between 1944 and 1953. (They also both appeared in Till the Clouds Roll By, 1946, but in separate musical numbers.) The bloom was more or less off the rose in this last teaming, evidenced by the fact that this was the only one of their pictures together that didn't even receive a review in the New York Times.

Allyson left the studio after this project, tired of the girl-next-door roles Metro kept giving her, which were becoming less believable for a woman of 36. Her next few projects at other studios were playing the wholesome wife of James Stewart (The Glenn Miller Story, 1954; Strategic Air Command, 1955), William Holden (Executive Suite, 1954), and Cornell Wilde (Woman's World, 1954). She finally got the breakout role she wanted, as José Ferrer's wife from hell in The Shrike (1955), but shortly after that she was back standing nobly by Stewart's side in The McConnell Story (1955).

The screenplay for Remains to Be Seen was based on the play of the same name by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay. A decade after their hit Arsenic and Old Lace, the duo returned to the genre of macabre comedy with this story, which opened on Broadway in October 1951 and ran for 199 performances. Allyson and Johnson took on the roles created on stage by Janis Paige and former child star (and future producer-director) Jackie Cooper.

The script was adapted for the screen by Sidney Sheldon, a prolific writer known today for stage musicals (Redhead), movies (Best Screenplay Academy Award winner The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, 1947), and television shows (I Dream of Jeannie). Sheldon is also well known for the melodramatic novels he turned out in his later years, among them The Other Side of Midnight and Rage of Angels.

In her tenth year in movies, Remains to Be Seen also turned out to be the last role for Angela Lansbury under her MGM contract. "Dreadful movie," she later described it. "I don't think I ever saw it." Once again, as she had done in her movie debut in Gaslight (1944) and in an earlier MGM adaptation of a Crouse and Lindsey play, State of the Union (1948), Angela was called on to play a villainess, but this time with decidedly heavier dragon lady overtones. The part was a real come-down for her, having played the lead in a summer stock production a year earlier. Reduced to a supporting role, she got little screen time before her character was quickly dispatched. After this, Lansbury appeared on the small screen for the first time, and over the next 60 years she would be in demand in both film and television, racking up three Supporting Actress Oscar® nominations and 15 Emmy nominations, largely for her leading role in the long-running series Murder, She Wrote.

Director Don Weis was not one of Metro's first-stringers. Remains to Be Seen was only his fifth picture, not counting a 1951 short sponsored by B'Nai B'rith and an episode of the multi-director anthology movie It's a Big Country (1951). Nevertheless, after moving into television in 1954, Weis had a long and very successful career on the small screen helming episodes of a number of popular shows, among them Wagon Train, Perry Mason, The Love Boat, and Hill Street Blues.

To suit the talents of its stars and the expectations audiences had for their movies, the producers slipped in a couple of musical numbers for them to perform, the old standards "Toot Toot Tootsie" and "Too Marvelous for Words." There was also a small role for Dorothy Dandridge, who got to do one number in her brief appearance, "Taking a Chance on Love," a song introduced in the 1940 stage musical and subsequent film Cabin in the Sky (1943), which featured Dorothy's mother Ruby Dandridge and her older sister Vivian.

Remains to Be Seen was cut by Irvine "Cotton" Warburton, an All-American college quarterback turned film editor. Warburton won honors in both fields, winning an Academy Award for his work on Mary Poppins (1964), one of many films he edited for the Walt Disney studio, and being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.

Director: Don Weis
Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon, based on the play by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay
Cinematography: Robert Planck
Editing: Cotton Warburton
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters
Original Music: Jeff Alexander (uncredited)
Cast: June Allyson (Jody Revere), Van Johnson (Waldo Williams), Louis Calhern (Benjamin Goodman), Angela Lansbury (Valeska Chauvel), John Beal (Dr. Glenson).
BW-88m.

by Rob Nixon
Remains To Be Seen

Remains to Be Seen

MGM reunited one of its most popular screen teams of the time for Remains to Be Seen (1953), a comedy-mystery about a Park Avenue apartment building manager (and sometime drummer) with a mysteriously dead tenant on his hands, and the jazz band singer niece of the deceased he becomes involved with. The storyline involves disputed inheritances, and the usual sort of machinations that go with that plot device, but in the end, America's Sweethearts June Allyson and Van Johnson end up in each other's arms as expected. This was the last of five movies in which Johnson and Allyson starred together between 1944 and 1953. (They also both appeared in Till the Clouds Roll By, 1946, but in separate musical numbers.) The bloom was more or less off the rose in this last teaming, evidenced by the fact that this was the only one of their pictures together that didn't even receive a review in the New York Times. Allyson left the studio after this project, tired of the girl-next-door roles Metro kept giving her, which were becoming less believable for a woman of 36. Her next few projects at other studios were playing the wholesome wife of James Stewart (The Glenn Miller Story, 1954; Strategic Air Command, 1955), William Holden (Executive Suite, 1954), and Cornell Wilde (Woman's World, 1954). She finally got the breakout role she wanted, as José Ferrer's wife from hell in The Shrike (1955), but shortly after that she was back standing nobly by Stewart's side in The McConnell Story (1955). The screenplay for Remains to Be Seen was based on the play of the same name by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay. A decade after their hit Arsenic and Old Lace, the duo returned to the genre of macabre comedy with this story, which opened on Broadway in October 1951 and ran for 199 performances. Allyson and Johnson took on the roles created on stage by Janis Paige and former child star (and future producer-director) Jackie Cooper. The script was adapted for the screen by Sidney Sheldon, a prolific writer known today for stage musicals (Redhead), movies (Best Screenplay Academy Award winner The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, 1947), and television shows (I Dream of Jeannie). Sheldon is also well known for the melodramatic novels he turned out in his later years, among them The Other Side of Midnight and Rage of Angels. In her tenth year in movies, Remains to Be Seen also turned out to be the last role for Angela Lansbury under her MGM contract. "Dreadful movie," she later described it. "I don't think I ever saw it." Once again, as she had done in her movie debut in Gaslight (1944) and in an earlier MGM adaptation of a Crouse and Lindsey play, State of the Union (1948), Angela was called on to play a villainess, but this time with decidedly heavier dragon lady overtones. The part was a real come-down for her, having played the lead in a summer stock production a year earlier. Reduced to a supporting role, she got little screen time before her character was quickly dispatched. After this, Lansbury appeared on the small screen for the first time, and over the next 60 years she would be in demand in both film and television, racking up three Supporting Actress Oscar® nominations and 15 Emmy nominations, largely for her leading role in the long-running series Murder, She Wrote. Director Don Weis was not one of Metro's first-stringers. Remains to Be Seen was only his fifth picture, not counting a 1951 short sponsored by B'Nai B'rith and an episode of the multi-director anthology movie It's a Big Country (1951). Nevertheless, after moving into television in 1954, Weis had a long and very successful career on the small screen helming episodes of a number of popular shows, among them Wagon Train, Perry Mason, The Love Boat, and Hill Street Blues. To suit the talents of its stars and the expectations audiences had for their movies, the producers slipped in a couple of musical numbers for them to perform, the old standards "Toot Toot Tootsie" and "Too Marvelous for Words." There was also a small role for Dorothy Dandridge, who got to do one number in her brief appearance, "Taking a Chance on Love," a song introduced in the 1940 stage musical and subsequent film Cabin in the Sky (1943), which featured Dorothy's mother Ruby Dandridge and her older sister Vivian. Remains to Be Seen was cut by Irvine "Cotton" Warburton, an All-American college quarterback turned film editor. Warburton won honors in both fields, winning an Academy Award for his work on Mary Poppins (1964), one of many films he edited for the Walt Disney studio, and being elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975. Director: Don Weis Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon, based on the play by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay Cinematography: Robert Planck Editing: Cotton Warburton Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters Original Music: Jeff Alexander (uncredited) Cast: June Allyson (Jody Revere), Van Johnson (Waldo Williams), Louis Calhern (Benjamin Goodman), Angela Lansbury (Valeska Chauvel), John Beal (Dr. Glenson). BW-88m. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the script of the play Remains to Be Seen, which was submitted to the PCA by Twentieth Century-Fox in December 1951, was rejected because it dealt humorously with pornography. (The Variety review of the Broadway production described the character of the uncle as a "collector of erotica.") The PCA also objected to the fact that "Valeska Chauvel" was not punished for her affair with the dead man, and even received a portion of the inheritance. M-G-M submitted a new version of the script in May 1952.
       According to a May 1951 Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column, Jackie Cooper was to star in the film. An item in MGM News reported that Debbie Reynolds had been cast in the role of "Jody Revere," and that the film would be shot in Technicolor. According to a October 22, 1952 news item in Hollywood Reporter, pianist Bobby Short was to accompany Dorothy Dandridge on her musical number, but he was not in the released film.