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Friday, 12 January 2007

Detective Kitty O'Day (1944)

One of the great guilty pleasures in life is to discover a new forties detective series. This is hardly a series, being only two movies as far as I can see, but it's a recurring character nonetheless. The most fun ones in my book were detectives who weren't really detectives, merely playing the part. This time it's Kitty O'Day who is a precisely spoken and shapely secretary played by Jean Parker, whose mother created undergrowth for Forbidden Planet. She appeared in two films: Detective Kitty O'Day and The Adventures of Kitty O'Day, this being the first.

Kitty is a nosy secretary, always listening in on her boss's calls. He's about to head out on a trip and when she follows him home to finalise some paperwork before he leaves, she finds him dead instead in a house with no power. His securities are missing along with the butler and a note that only Kitty has seen, he was apparently going to South America not Boston and the house soon fills up with suspects, starting with Kitty's boyfriend who is also her boss's accountant.

Most of the cast members are either reliable workhorses like Tim Ryan as the inept cop in charge of the investigation, who is very reminiscent of Edward Brophy; or third rate actors like Peter Cookson as the boyfriend, who has so little acting talent that he tries to be Cary Grant but ends up more like Matt LeBlanc. He's almost outacted by the walls, which are of the very cheap wooden variety marked with neat but very cheap signs that all look like they took about ten seconds to create. To say the budget was low is something of an understatement.

Luckily there's Jean Parker to keep up something of a standard. She is by far the best thing about this movie. She has a field day with her character, getting into everyone's business, answering everyone else's questions and running her own investigation into the whole thing. She's so much fun I'm amazed I haven't seen her in much else. I'll have to keep my eyes open for more of her films.

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