The 1939 wacky feature "Charlie McCarthy, Detective" is a curious mix of mystery thriller and comedy, and a great little hysterical and historical piece of Americana!
Like a bunch of other films through film history, there is a lot you just have to take for granted, and that's just the way it is. If you have no imagination, you're not going to get it, because Charlie is not really treated like a dummy, he's basically just another character in this movie! There's even a scene where he gets shot, and they have to do surgery to remove the bullet, and it's done completely straight, just like he was a real person!
Charlie and his pal Edgar Bergen are entertaining the very distinguished looking Louis Calhern as big-time editor Arthur Aldrich. Louis ended up in some major motion pictures like "Duck Soup," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Notorious," and "The Asphalt Jungle!"
Edgar Bergen was one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, not the best at the art, but a true innovator. He would even take potshots at himself, by having Charlie give him crap for his lips moving! If you have any doubts to the man's credits, "The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show" was on the radio from 1937 to 1956, and Edgar has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for radio, one for TV, and one for the movies!!! Here's Charlie taking a potshot at Mr. Aldrich!
Mr. Ray Turner has the quintessential stereotypical 1939 black guy role as "Gravy," and you can look at it one of two ways, he was either a funny black man, or a black man being used by the white establishment for a laugh! Either way, Ray had lots of work over the years and was in 99 features and shorts! So what's got Gravy's attention???
It's none other than Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy's pal, Mortimer Snerd stowed away in the car!
Mr. Aldrich has a nice pad, and some artwork on the wall, that looks like a work by Salvador Dali, but I'm pretty sure it's just a prop! I did some searching and couldn't find a real Dali painting that looked like that!
The love interest is the couple of "Love That Bob" Cummings as reporter Scotty Hamilton and Constance Moore as the singer Sheila Stuart! You might not remember "The Bob Cummings Show," but everyone should know about the TV series, "My Living Doll" that ran from 1964 to 65 and starred Robert Cummings as Dr. Robert McDonald, and featured the incredible Julie Newmar as AAF709, an actual living robot! Singer and actress Constance Moore was Wilma Deering in "Buck Rogers" and sang in a number of musicals!
Edgar, Charlie and Gravy are at the Aldrich estate to help raise money for charity by selling hot dogs!
The dim-witted Mortimer Snerd keeps showing up in the strangest places! Even though Edgar is doing Mortimer's voice too, Mortimer is more like a free agent! Mortimer was also the inspiration for the Looney Tunes character Beaky Buzzard!
Edgar Bergen lines out how the little mystery went down!
The music for "Charlie McCarthy, Detective" is a mixed bag starting with Constance Moore performing "Almost," a tune penned by Samuel Lerner and Ben Oakland, the other songs including "I'm Charlie McCarthy, Detective" were written by Harold L. Block, Jacques Press and Eddie Cherkose. Thanx again to the good Professor Grewbeard for loaning us his copy of "Charlie McCarthy, Detective," so we could share it with you all! All right, that's it for now, but stay tuned, because we've got a wild array of titles coming up this month, including a couple I don't even believe myself!