Starting off our next Abbott and Costello double-feature is their 1942 comedy Who Done It?
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Phink (1964)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 47 seconds)
The Pink Panther fights with the “little man” over the color scheme of a house being painted. After the appearance of the Pink Panther in the credits of The Pink Panther, the Depatie-Freleng Studio started up a series of shorts featuring the character. This was the first one, and it ended up being the rare time that the debut short of a character ended up winning an Academy Award. Definitely a fun cartoon, with the silent characters still managing to communicate quite well, as they try to get the house painted the color that they want. Definitely a fun cartoon, and one that’s easy to re-watch time and time again, especially with the classic Henry Mancini tune serving as the score!
And Now For The Main Feature…
After being checked by his doctor, the director of the General Broadcasting System, Colonel J.R. Andrews (Thomas Gomez), and his producer Jane Little (Louise Allbritton) decide to hire ex-college professor Jimmy Turner (Patric Knowles) for their “Murder At Midnight” radio show. However, since he was previously in a relationship with Jane, Jimmy decides to turn the offer down. Meanwhile, wanna-be radio writers Chick Larkin (Bud Abbott) and Mervyn Milgrim (Lou Costello), who are working at a local soda fountain, meet Col. Andrews’ secretary, Juliet Collins (Mary Wickes), and Chick decides Mervyn should play up to her, in hopes of getting a job on the radio. While that doesn’t quite work, they get tickets to that night’s “Murder At Midnight” broadcast from Jimmy, who is also there at the soda fountain. During the broadcast, right before he tries to make an announcement, Col. Andrews falls over dead, and it is quickly discovered that he was murdered. Chick and Mervyn pretend to be detectives, in the hopes that, if they solve the crime, they can become famous on the radio. Soon, the real cops arrive, in the form of Lieutenant Moran (William Gargan) and Brannigan (William Bendix). They start going after the two fake detectives, while Chick and Mervyn try to figure out who the real killer is. Jimmy and Jane discover some things in Col. Andrews’ office, and plan another broadcast of “Murder At Midnight” to help bring the real killer out into the open.
Who Done It? was originally being planned to follow up Ride ‘Em Cowboy, but they didn’t get around to it until after production had finished on Pardon My Sarong. Of course, the movie paid homage to some of Abbott and Costello’s history together. For the Wheel Of Fortune section, they used the same microphone from the Kate Smith program that they had made their radio debut on. When Abbott and Costello came in for that program, the orchestra plays the tune “You’re A Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith” from their earlier hit Buck Privates. And, of course, they get a quick reference in for their “Who’s On First?” routine, as Lou wins a radio on that program, and, when he turns it on, we hear them doing that routine on the radio! The movie capped off a great year for Abbott and Costello, following the success of their previous movies, which made them #1 at the box office for that year. After they finished production on this movie, they embarked on a successful tour of the U.S. to help sell war bonds.
For me, this is one of Abbott and Costello’s better movies. After all eight of their previous movies were musicals, they went for a straight, non-musical comedy, and it works SO much better! Without the music, the boys are given more to do, including some of their routines, like “Limburger Cheese” and “Alexander 2222,” plus “Watts Volts,” which was a routine they knew so well that they improvised it on the set, and it stayed in the movie! While there was a side romance between Patric Knowles’ Jimmy Turner and Louise Allbritton’s Jane Little, it didn’t interfere as much with the comedy for the rest of the movie. Throw in William Bendix, especially when he gets caught by Lou in his own handcuffs, plus Mary Wickes as Lou’s potential love interest, who was also good with her comedic moments, and this movie is well worth it! Sure, the murder mystery angle doesn’t really get explored too much, as far as examining all the potential suspects, but it’s just as much fun sticking with the boys on the run! I can’t recommend this movie enough!
This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott and Costello Universal Pictures Collection.
Film Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Pardon My Sarong (1942) – Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – It Ain’t Hay (1943)
Pardon My Sarong (1942) – The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection – It Ain’t Hay (1943)