Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


SH! THE OCTOPUS (1937). Director: William C. McGann.
Allen Jenkins (pictured) has a rare lead role as a cop, Dempsey, teamed with irritating Hugh Herbert, who plays Kelly. The two find themselves investigating an alleged murder at a spooky lighthouse. (The body dangling from way high overhead in the tower, dripping blood onto Herbert, is a startlingly macabre touch). This has something to do with a mysterious crime leader, the scourge of the area, who is known as the Octopus. There is also a real octopus hanging around the lighthouse whose well-articulated tentacles float in now and then to close doors, turn off lights, and snatch people out of windows and into the ocean. John Eldredge plays the new owner of the lighthouse, and Marcia Ralston is a pretty lady, Vesta Vernoff, who is certain that her stepfather is the body dangling over everybody's heads. Despite (or because of) all these macabre, spooky touches, the movie -- based on that chest nut The Gorilla -- is never as funny as it's supposed to be, and hasn't got a strong enough story to hold one's interest. Elspeth Dudgeon is a riot as Vesta's old nanny, but you keep hoping that Abbott and Costello will show up to create some real laughs.
Verdict: Not a total stinker, but close. **.

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