One Body Too Many


1h 14m 1944

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Nov 1944
Production Company
Pine-Thomas Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,836ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Life insurance agent Albert Tuttle has an appointment with multi-millionaire Cyrus J. Rutherford, during which he hopes to sell him a policy. Albert is unaware that Rutherford has died, however, and that his relatives have gathered at his house for the reading of the will. Instead of the will, Rutherford's lawyer, Morton Gellman, reads a statement from Rutherford to his friends and relatives, who include his sister Estelle, who disobeyed his wishes by marrying Kenneth Harris; Estelle's daughter Margaret, whom he never met; his nephew, Jim Davis, whom he never liked; his niece, Carol Dunlap, whom he liked although he despised her father; his nephew Henry and Henry's wife Mona, whom he felt always wore too much makeup; his butler Murkil, and housekeeper Matthews, who padded the bills and kept house haphazardly; the Professor, an astrologer on whom he relied for advice; and Gellman, whom he distrusted. In the statement Rutherford specifies that his will be locked in a safe in the house until he is interred in a glass-domed vault in his rooftop observatory. Everyone is to stay at the house until construction of the vault is completed. Should his body be buried anywhere else, the terms of the will will be reversed, and those who are to inherit the largest sum of $500,000, will inherit the smallest sum of $1.50 for cab fare from the train station, and vice versa. In addition, should anyone leave the grounds, their inheritance will be forfeited. Gellman has hired a private detective to keep watch over Rutherford's body, but the detective is abducted when he reaches the house, and Albert is mistaken for him and locked in a room with the body. When he sees Rutherford's coffin, Albert screams to be released, and insists on leaving. He reconsiders after Carol, whom he has befriended, tells him that she fears for her own safety, as she has already received an anonymous death threat. Albert then saves her when a giant stone from the top of the house nearly drops on her. Later in the evening, a lightning storm causes the lights in the house to extinguish, and Albert is knocked out. Carol rushes to him, and they find that Rutherford's body has disappeared. When Davis gets angry at Henry and tries to hit him, he strikes Albert instead, who falls into the wall. A panel opens and reveals Rutherford's body inside. In order to determine who tried to steal the body, Gellman formulates a plan with Albert in which he will hide in the coffin while Gellman locks Rutherford's body in a closet. Davis, Kenneth and Margaret plot to steal the body, and therefore carry the coffin outside and dump it in the pond. Carol awakens from her sleep and watches them, and rescues Albert before he drowns. When they return to the house they discover that Gellman has been murdered and Rutherford's body is missing. Unable to telephone the police because the lines are dead, Albert decides to investigate the murder himself. He accidentally finds a secret passage that leads into all the bedrooms, and later, when he and Mona are awakened by the sound of footsteps, Carol catches him emerging from Mona's bedroom. Having fallen in love with Albert, Carol is jealous, and Albert insists on explaining, but when he goes into Mona's room, he finds that she has been murdered, and he becomes a suspect. The family locks Albert in the observatory, but Carol secretly visits him and they discover that Rutherford's body is hidden inside the telescope. While everyone comes up to look in the telescope, Carol finds her way into the secret passage, but is taken hostage by Henry, who is the murderer. After hearing her screams, Albert and the rest of the men chase Henry, and find the real detective bound and gagged in the passageway. Albert follows Henry and Carol onto the outside wall of the observatory, and Henry, who has seen the will, threatens to throw Carol off the precipice. Watching the proceedings from inside, Matthews faints and accidentally pushes the lever that activates the telescope. As the telescope rotates, it knocks Henry off the edge, and Albert saves Carol and kisses her. Later, everyone gathers to read the will, and they learn that Henry was not going to get much money, which is why he tried to reverse the will. Before Albert leaves, he follows Carol into the secret passageway, and his conscience tells him that he will follow her for the rest of his life.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Nov 1944
Production Company
Pine-Thomas Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,836ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although Bela Lugosi's character is listed as "Larchmont" in the CBCS, he is called Murkil throughout the film. The character's name was "Larchmont" in early drafts of the script.