One Body Too Many (1944)

Who’s in it?: Jack Haley (the Tin Woodsman in Wizard of Oz); Jean Parker (The Gunfighter); Bela Lugosi

What’s it about?: A dead millionaire leaves a complicated will, forcing his potential heirs to spend time in a dark mansion. Naturally, someone starts to kill them off.

How is it?: Haley gives this comedy a lot of heart as a timid insurance salesman who shows up for an appointment he booked a month before the millionaire died. Parker plays the millionaire’s favorite niece and she and Haley fall for each other and try to keep each other alive.

The humor is farcical rather than joke-based, so while there aren’t many laugh out loud moments, it’s a lot of fun. Haley strikes a nice balance in his performance. He’s comically frightened without being slapsticky about it. The funniest stuff has to do with Lugosi and Blanche Yurka as the millionaire’s butler and maid. They’re as suspicious as anyone and are constantly offering (possibly poisoned) coffee to the rest of the characters. Lugosi’s disappointment each time he’s refused is pricelessly hilarious.

Rating: Good. It’s worth watching especially if you like movies about old, dark houses with lots of secret passages, but Haley is also charming. If you’re a fan of Lugosi at all though, it’s a must see.

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