One Body Too Many

November 1, 2015 at 3:33 am (6 Heads, One Body Too Many) (, , , , )

One Body Too Many – 1944 – United States

An astrology-obsessed millionaire dies, leaving an eccentric will. After personally insulting each heir, the will proclaims that they may receive an inheritance of between $1.50 and $500,000, with the exact amount to be revealed in two days. A caveat states that the millionaire’s body must be placed in a specially constructed observatory so he can watch the stars forever. If the dome is not built in two days, the amounts of the inheritances will be reversed. Those who would inherit the most would instead inherit the least and vice versa.

The kooky cast of heirs resides at the millionaire’s mansion to oversee the handling of the body. Predictably, there is a bad storm. The road is washed out. The phone lines are down. Two people get murdered. By strange coincidence, a clownish insurance salesman winds up in the middle of this treacherous setup. In order to hook up with a pretty lady, he solves the mystery.

The premise of One Body Too Many recalls other comedy-mystery films of the era. A group of shifty characters gather for the reading of the will and are embroiled in a murder mystery. Suspense and intrigue abound as the heirs seek the killer in their midst. The mansion also has secret passages and paintings which people can spy through.

While the mystery lacks logic, and the murderer is unsurprisingly the person you should least expect, One Body Too Many is still enjoyable. The plot and characters are pleasantly wacky, and the film moves briskly with plentiful action and comedy. Jack Haley (the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz) plays the heroic insurance salesman. Bela Lugosi plays a butler with a callous disregard for human life.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. At one point, the millionaire’s body is crammed inside a telescope, which is kind of gross.

Happy Halloween!

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