Friday, February 17, 2012

Tonight's Movie: No Hands on the Clock (1941)

NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK is a peppy little "B" mystery starring Chester Morris as a milk-guzzling private detective, with Jean Parker as his lactose-intolerant bride.

Newlyweds Humphrey and Louise Campbell decide to honeymoon in Reno, Nevada. Their marital bliss is soon put to the test as they've been followed to Reno by Humphrey's boss Oscar (George Watts), who wants Humphrey to handle what is supposed to be an easy but lucrative case. There's a mink coat in it for Louise if Humphrey is successful.

Before you know it, Humphrey and Louise are mixed up with a whole lot of strange characters and more than one dead body. Humphrey's got to work fast if he and Louise aren't going to become a Reno divorce statistic instead of honeymooners!

The plot gets a bit too convoluted to follow at times, with perhaps more characters than can easily fit in a 76-minute movie, but it's not very important; it's fun simply being in the company of the quick-thinking Humphrey and spunky Louise. The film has some cute quirks, such as the milk-addicted Humphrey bringing his accordion along on the honeymoon, and there are a couple nice visual touches, such as the Art Deco sign on the Truckee River Hotel.

Maxwell Shane's screenplay was based on the novel NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK, by Daniel Mainwaring, writing under the pseudonym Geoffrey Holmes. Mainwaring/Holmes was also the author of BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH, which provided the basis for the noir classic OUT OF THE PAST (1947).

This film was made by the Pine-Thomas unit at Paramount, which made numerous movies featuring varying combinations of Morris, Parker, Richard Arlen, and Nancy Kelly. For some reason these films seem to have fallen into the public domain; I'll definitely be checking out more.

The supporting cast includes Rod Cameron, Astrid Allwyn, Keye Luke, Rose Hobart, Dick Purcell, and Robert Middlemass. Look for Milburn Stone (GUNSMOKE) as an FBI man.

The film was directed by Frank McDonald, with black and white cinematography by Fred Jackman Jr.. Jackman, who shot many of the Pine-Thomas films, was married to Nancy Kelly from 1946 to 1950.

NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK is available on DVD from Alpha; Alpha DVDs are often available at a good price from The DVD print and sound are variable, but I've seen worse; I was glad enough of the film survived to enjoy. It would be interesting to know if a better print still exists.


Blogger grandoldmovies said...

B-movies of the 40s often turn out to be lots of fun - they're fast, snappy, and filled with colorful characters. I always enjoy them - thanks for letting me know of another one!

6:10 AM  

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