Some Old Movies for the New Year

Are you the up-and-at-’em type? Up at 6am to get the most out of the day? Really? What are you doing reading an old movie list then? Hmm?

January 1st. Time to get serious. Make some lists. Set schedules. And all that stuff.

And the easiest way to do this is by lying on the sofa and watching some cozy old whodunnits. No?

Well that’s my plan for the day.

Penguin Pool Murder (1932)

If you like the Miss Marple series, particularly the ones with Margaret Rutherford, you’ll probably enjoy this. It stars Edna May Oliver as the snoopy teacher who can tell everyone how to do things right, and James Gleason as the police inspector who has the surprising sense to accept her help.

Two former lovers meet at the aquarium. The woman’s husband is there too. He ends up floating face down in the penguin pool.

Trust me this is a cute and cozy mystery. Perfect for a dull grey winter’s day.

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

William Powell stars as Philo Vance, the rich amateur detective whose help on cases the police happily accept. What was with the police in those days?

It’s the only one on the list that is played more for suspense than laughs. But still it’s a very enjoyable locked room murder mystery.

There’s Always A Woman (1938)

This one is played strictly for laughs. And it actually is quite funny.

It stars Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas. He’s a detective tired of trying to make it in the private sector. She plays the wife who doesn’t want him to close shop. So while he goes back to being a dectective for the DA’s office, she takes the next client who walks through the door. And then someone gets murdered…

And Then There Were None (1945)

The plot of this is quite gruesome. A bunch of strangers are invited to a house on a remote and uninhabited island. And one by one they are murdered. For crimes the killer is sure they committed.

But this adaptation doesn’t attempt any dark exploration of the human psyche. It’s a fun whodunnit in which the players occasionally play straight to the camera as if knowingly inviting the audience to play along and guess who amongst them is the true villian of the piece.

It’s a fun, light, bright and breezy murder mystery. Perfect non-taxing viewing for a bank holiday.

My Favorite Brunette (1947)

This isn’t so much a whodunnit as a whuzgoinon. Although really it’s a great send-up of the ever-strong-ever-smooth detective types from movies of the time.

Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour star in this. He’s a photographer who gets mistaken for a private eye by a desperate and paranoid Dorothy Lamour who’s husband has gone missing.

Bob Hope is perfect as the in-over-his-head bumbler caught up in some dangerous intrigue. The film starts with him on death row recounting the incidents that brought him there.

And personally I suspect if I ever do stumble upon some dangerous criminal ongoings somehow I will be the one who ends up in jail.

New Year’s Resolution

Must learn to channel my inner Margaret Rutherford. Or Edna May Oliver.

We all do have an inner calm, collected, no-nonsense, good humoured, amateur sleuth, don’t we? I hope so…

And so I have my New Year’s Resolution. Must learn to channel my inner fictional amateur sleuth.

It’s easily as good as my usual resolutions.

Hope you found something good here too.

Happy New Year Everybody!

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