Forty Naughty Girls


1h 3m 1937
Forty Naughty Girls

Brief Synopsis

A schoolteacher turns detective to solve a theatrical murder.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Riddle of the 40 Naughty Girls
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 24, 1937
Premiere Information
Hollywood opening: 27 Jul 1937
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Riddle of the Forty Naughty Girls" by Stuart Palmer in Mystery (Jul 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

When the corpse of Windy Bennett, the womanizing publicist of the popular Broadway musical Forty Naughty Girls , is found in a dressing room during intermission, audience members Inspector Oscar Piper and his schoolteacher girl friend, Hildegarde Withers, abandon their seats and begin to investigate. After Oscar discovers that the show's author, Tommy Washburn, was paying blackmail money to Windy, who was aware of the fact that Tommy had stolen the musical from a dead writer, he concludes that Washburn is the murderer. However, before Oscar can arrest Washburn, he, too, is killed, and Jeff "Pop" Plummer, the propmaster whose stage gun fired the fatal shot, becomes the prime suspect. As Oscar and his bumbling assistant are about to take Jeff to jail, clumsy but clever Hildegarde stumbles across a letter from a private detective to "Ricky" Rickman, the show's producer, which reveals that Rickman knew about an affair that his fiancée and Windy were conducting. Deducing that a jealous Rickman murdered first Windy and then Tommy, who saw Rickman leaving the original crime scene, Oscar frees Jeff and arrests the producer.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Riddle of the 40 Naughty Girls
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 24, 1937
Premiere Information
Hollywood opening: 27 Jul 1937
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Riddle of the Forty Naughty Girls" by Stuart Palmer in Mystery (Jul 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

Forty Naughty Girls


Despite the promise of the title, fictional detective Hildegarde Withers is definitely not a naughty girl. - The fussy spinster detective created by mystery novelist Stuart Palmer had previously -- and, some would say, definitively -- been portrayed by horse-faced character actress Edna May Oliver in films such as Murder On A Honeymoon (1935). Purists who'd enjoyed Oliver's formidable incarnation of Withers were disappointed by the very different Zasu Pitts in this go-round, where she and suitor Inspector Oscar Piper (James Gleason) investigate the murder of a Broadway publicist. While Pitts had a great knack for slapstick -- and was more suited to this particular screenplay, which leaned less on the love-hate banter between Withers and Piper and more on broad sight gags (director Edward Cline earned his chops with the Keystone Kops under Mack Sennett) -- her screen persona was daffy and delicate compared to the more forceful and fearless Oliver, and the lightweight deduction required to solve this mystery disappointed fans of Palmer's original Withers books. Ratiocination junkies wont' be satisfied by this film, but those delighted by the often delightful Pitts will enjoy.
Forty Naughty Girls

Forty Naughty Girls

Despite the promise of the title, fictional detective Hildegarde Withers is definitely not a naughty girl. - The fussy spinster detective created by mystery novelist Stuart Palmer had previously -- and, some would say, definitively -- been portrayed by horse-faced character actress Edna May Oliver in films such as Murder On A Honeymoon (1935). Purists who'd enjoyed Oliver's formidable incarnation of Withers were disappointed by the very different Zasu Pitts in this go-round, where she and suitor Inspector Oscar Piper (James Gleason) investigate the murder of a Broadway publicist. While Pitts had a great knack for slapstick -- and was more suited to this particular screenplay, which leaned less on the love-hate banter between Withers and Piper and more on broad sight gags (director Edward Cline earned his chops with the Keystone Kops under Mack Sennett) -- her screen persona was daffy and delicate compared to the more forceful and fearless Oliver, and the lightweight deduction required to solve this mystery disappointed fans of Palmer's original Withers books. Ratiocination junkies wont' be satisfied by this film, but those delighted by the often delightful Pitts will enjoy.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Riddle of the 40 Naughty Girls. Forty Naughty Girls, which some reviews list as 40 Naughty Girls, was the sixth film in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series, and the second film in which ZaSu Pitts appeared as Hildegarde. Before Pitts, Edna May Oliver and Helen Broderick had played the role. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Edward Cline replaced Ben Holmes as director. Actor Edward Marr made his screen debut in this production. A Hollywood Reporter news item adds Elizabeth Russell and William Corson to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. For more information on the series, for Penguin Pool Murder and consult the Series Index.