Beware Spooks! (1939)

Article #1309 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-14-2004
Posting Date: 3-13-2005
Directed by Edward Sedgwick
Featuring Joe E. Brown, Mary Carlisle, Clarence Kolb

An incompetent policeman loses his job when he lets a criminal escape, and he vows to catch the criminal to get his job back.

For many years I was most familiar with Joe E. Brown as a supporting player in any number of movies (like SOME LIKE IT HOT, COMEDY OF TERRORS and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM). He was always very enjoyable in these, but for some reason I never caught his starring vehicles. Having seen a couple of them now, I suspect that none of them ever really became comedy classics. Brown himself has good comic timing and a memorable face, and he did make the best of what he was given. However, his comic persona in these was strictly routine (the good-hearted bumbler), and rarely do they seem inspired. They were watchable, but hardly great.

The fantastic content in this one is slight; the last part of the movie has Brown matching wits with a criminal in a carnival spook house. This is also one of the better scenes in the movie, as a fight scene set among the usual fun-house acoutrements (stairs that turn into slides, slippery floors, etc.) does make for an interesting sequence. Other than that, the best scene of the movie is a sequence where Brown finds himself alone in a hotel room with his newly-married bride, and his nervousness results in his accidentally making a shambles of the room. Other than that, this movie is pretty slight and forgettable.

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