Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tonight's Movie: The Man Who Wouldn't Die (1942)

THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE is an entertaining entry in the early '40s Michael Shayne detective series starring Lloyd Nolan.

Shayne is called by his friend, Catherine Wolff (effervescent Marjorie Weaver), to masquerade as her brand-new husband after someone takes a shot at her at the family mansion.

There are plenty of strange goings-on at the mansion, where dark and stormy nights abound.  Those on hand include Catherine's father (Paul Harvey), beautiful stepmother (Helene Reynolds), and a scientist (Henry Wilcoxon) working in the basement.

There's also a slew of family servants, including the butler (Billy Bevan), the caretaker (Francis Ford), the cook (Ruth Warren), and a maid (Mary Field). The local chief of police (Olin Howlin) is also around for the fun along with the coroner (Jeff Corey). Things get even crazier when Catherine's real bridegroom (Richard Derr) suddenly shows up.

This is a variant on an "old dark house" mystery, with Nolan's wisecracking Shayne and Weaver's bouncy bride lightening the tone considerably; Howlin's police chief is also nicely amusing.  The scene where the chief patrols the mansion during a rainstorm is a stitch.

THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE is a fun comedy-drama which wraps everything up in a tight 65 minutes, just as a good detective series movie should.

Marjorie Weaver had previously appeared in MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE (1940) and would later appear in another entry in the series, JUST OFF BROADWAY (1942). In each of the three Michael Shayne movies she appeared in, she played a different character.

The movie was directed by Herbert I. Leeds. It was photographed in black and white by Joe MacDonald. The musical score was by David Raksin (LAURA).

This movie was the fifth film in the series; it was the fourth and final film in the Michael Shayne Mysteries Vol. I DVD collection, which for unknown reasons omitted the third title in the series, DRESSED TO KILL (1941). The DVD can be rented from ClassicFlix.

Previous reviews of films in the Michael Shayne series: MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE (1940), SLEEPERS WEST (1941), DRESSED TO KILL (1941), and BLUE, WHITE AND PERFECT (1942).


Blogger Vienna said...

I've never seen a Michael Shayne film so look forward to catching up with them soon. Thanks for highlighting them.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

These are fun movies, Vienna! I think my favorite is SLEEPERS WEST, which is one of my favorite movie titles ever. There's nothing like a good train travel movie! :)

Best wishes,

10:28 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I wonder why that third film was omitted? Problems with rights? Incomplete copy?

9:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquel!

It's really kind of odd -- the third film, DRESSED TO KILL, was released on DVD separately. I'd love to know the reasons why it was randomly carved out for a single-title release.

There are two more films with Nolan as Shayne; I've recorded one from Fox Movie Channel but haven't been able to track down the final film as yet. It would have been really nice to have a Vol. 2 Shayne set!

Best wishes,

10:12 AM  

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