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SH! THE OCTOPUS (director: William McGann; screenwriter: from the play by Ralph Spence/George Bricker; cinematographer: Arthur Todd; editor: Clarence Kolster; music: David Raksin; cast: Hugh Herbert (Detective Harold Kelly), Allen Jenkins (Detective Dempsey), Marcia Ralston (Vesta Vernoff), John Eldredge (Paul Morgan), George Rosener (Capt. Hook), Brandon Tyman (Capt. Cobb), Eric Stanley (Police Commissioner Clancy), Margaret Irving (Polly Crane), Elspeth Dudgeon (Nanny); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bryan Foy; Warner Brothers; 1937)
“Dreadful … .”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dreadful remake of the silent film called The Gorilla from 1927 and the talkie from 1930. The lamebrain comedy/mystery is based on a play by Ralph Spence. Spence’s gorilla has been replaced by a giant special-effects octopus and a lighthouse now serves as ‘the old-dark-house.’ Veteran B-film director William McGann (“Marry the Girl”/”Brides Are Like That”/”Freshman Love”) fails to get many honest laughs out of such a feeble story.

Two bumbling Irish cops, Detective Harold Kelly (Hugh Herbert) and Detective Dempsey (Allen Jenkins), have a blowout on a stormy night and while in the midst of changing the flat are summoned to the lighthouse to prevent harm from befalling the frightened heiress Verta Vernoff (Marcia Ralston). She claims her inventor stepfather is dead in the lighthouse. He is the inventor of a radium ray, that in the wrong hands can give them power to control the world. The ray is wanted by The Octopus, the Number 1 wanted criminal, who has a $50,000 reward on his head. At the lighthouse there are a number of characters and a number of ridiculous plot turns, and it ends in a surprise. The problem is the story is not only senseless and not funny, but what’s even worse is the surprise ending; it was so dumb that it was an insult to the viewer.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”