WHO DONE IT? (1956)
Article 3090 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-1-2009
Posting Date: 1-29-2010
Directed by Basil Dearden
Featuring Benny Hill, Belinda Lee, David Kossoff
What it is: Private detective comedy with a surprisingly large amount of fantastic content
After winning a contest in a detective magazine, a former ice show janitor decides to become a private detective. When he mistakenly gets engaged on a case investigating an unfaithful husband, he stumbles across a group of spies attempting to send the secrets of a weather-creating machine to their country.
I’m familiar enough with the work of Benny Hill to have had an idea in advance of what this movie would be like; it’s a standard albeit energetic slapstick comedy, minus the somewhat risque humor that was the earmark of his TV work. It does manage to keep the energy level fairly high, and the gags are consistently creative enough to hold your attention throughout, though it never quite achieves the non-stop hilarity that it aspires to. There’s actually quite a bit of fantastic content here; we have the aforementioned weather machine which is used during one point of the proceedings, the mythical country of Euralia, the woman with super-strength, and a sequence at a radio show in which a number of new inventions are put on display. The movie also features the stunningly attractive Belinda Lee, whose career was sadly cut short by a car accident at the age of 26. Ernest Thesiger pops up as a scientist at the weather-machine demonstration, a sequence which also features Peter Bull. Charles Hawtrey also has an amusing cameo as a disc jockey. It’s not great, but it’s amusing enough.