REMEMBER LAST NIGHT?
(director: James Whale; screenwriter: Louise Henry/Doris Malloy/Harry Clork/Dan Totheroh/based on the novel “Hangover Murders,” written under the pseudonym of Adam Hobhouse; cinematographer: Joseph Valentine; editor: Ted Kent ; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Edward Arnold (Danny Harrison), Constance Cummings (Carlotta Milburn), Sally Eilers (Bette Huling), Robert Young (Tony Milburn), Robert Armstrong (Fred Flannagan), Reginald Denny (Jack Whitridge), Louise Henry (Penny Whitridge), Monroe Owsley (Billy Arliss), E.E. Clive (coroner’s photographer),Gregory Ratoff (Faronea), Arthur Treacher (Phelps), Ed Brophy (Maxie), George Meeker (Vic Huling), Jack LaRue (Baptiste), Gustav von Seyffertitz (Prof. Karl Herman Eckhardt Jones); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carl Laemmle, Jr.; Universal; 1935)
“An unjustly neglected classic by James Whale.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An unjustly neglected classic by James Whale(“Frankenstein”/”Showboat”/”The Old Dark House”) in the form of both a screwball comedy and a Thin Man-like crime drama. It is based on the novel “The Hangover Murders,” written under the pseudonym of Adam Hobhouse. A team of writers–Louise Henry, Doris Malloy, Harry Clork and Dan Totheroh– are responsible for the B-film screenplay.
At a party to celebrate the six-month wedding anniversary of Tony Milburn (Robert Young) and Carlotta (Constance Cummings), held in a mansion on Long Island, the idle rich socialites turn it into an all-night drinking party. In the morning, the Milburns discover in his bed the body of the elderly Vic Huling (George Meeker), who has been shot in the heart. The dead man’s wife, Bette (Sally Eilers), is not present. Thereby Tony calls his DA pal Danny Harrison (Edward Arnold) to investigate, but all the guests interviewed were too drunk to recall anything. To help straighten things out, the noted hypnotist (Gustav von Seyffertitz) is brought in to work his psychic shtick.
Arthur Treacher is a delight as the crabby moralistic butler who can barely conceal his scorn for the out-of-control alcoholic socialites he serves drinks to. Character actor Ed Brophy plays the detective who is officially leading the murder investigation.
The Art Deco sets designed by art director Charles D. Hall are priceless. The odd suspense story is deliciously witty. The snappy editing style is innovative. The surreal touches and gags are mind-boggling, including the one of the guests in black-face. The parody of the detective thriller genre is brilliantly executed. Too bad upon its release the public didn’t flock to the theaters, as the pic was a financial flop. Not helping the film is the Production Code Administration, who reacted to the bilge drinking scenes and to the bawdy dialogue with censorship–rendering unclear parts of the screenplay.
REVIEWED ON 11/17/2014 GRADE: A-