WHO KILLED AUNT MAGGIE? (1940)
Article 3979 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring John Hubbard, Wendy Barrie, Edgar Kennedy
What it is: Old dark house mystery
A radio advertiser tracks his fiancee to her home, an old dark house in the South. There they encounter murders and mystery.
Yes, we’re in the “old dark house” again; I wonder if we’ll ever get to the bottom of the genre. There’s a number of familiar names in this one, such as Edgar Kennedy, Onslow Stevens, Willie Best and Milton Parsons; the latter, amazingly enough, is NOT playing an undertaker, but a tombstone salesman. It’s amusing enough, and it moves pretty quickly, but that may be because I was watching an edited TV version that runs only 53 minutes; the movie in its entirety runs seventy. If anything sets this one apart, it’s a certain self-referential quality; the movie opens with the hero pooh-poohing an “old dark house” script as unbelievable and ridiculous, only to find himself caught up in one. For the record, my favorite moment is the final joke involving a wedding ceremony. The fantastic content is the usual shtick, though we also have a clock that mysteriously stops every time someone dies in the house.