Who Killed Mary What’s ‘er Name? (1971)

Article 2219 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-13-2007
Posting Date: 9-9-2007
Directed by Ernest Pintoff
Featuring Red Buttons, Sylvia Miles, Conrad Bain

Upon his dismissal from the hospital, a diabetic ex-boxer decides to investigate the murder of a hooker when the authorities fail to make any investigation of their own. He rents out the hooker’s former apartment, and begins questioning the offbeat characters who knew her.

This movie was listed in John Stanley’s CREATURE FEATURES MOVIE GUIDE STRIKES AGAIN, but, as happens occasionally with some of his entries in the book, this one has no fantasy, science fiction or horror elements to it that would merit its inclusion. However, I agree with his evaluation of the movie, in that it is not the plot that really makes this movie work; it’s the plethora of odd and curious characters that populate the world of this movie, not least of which is our hero played excellently by Red Buttons. There’s also a filmmaker who covers the neighborhood trying to get cinema verite footage for a movie about hookers and a junkie who torments prostitutes to win the support (and money) of old women to satisfy his habit, as well as a likable prostitute, a suspicious cop, and a friendly bartender, as well as a buddy who helps him with his investigation. These characters go a long ways towards keeping our interest when the story falters or gets confusing. As well as those listed above, the cast features David Doyle as one of the prostitute’s clients (with the nickname of Captain Marvel) , and Ron Carey, who I remember from “Barney Miller”. It’s not a perfect movie, but the strengths are greater than the weaknesses.


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