WHO DONE IT? (1942). Director: Erle C. Kenton.
Bud and Lou are soda jerks who seize an opportunity to get into the radio writing business and wind up pretending to be detectives when someone is murdered during a broadcast. While some of Costello's shtick gets a little tiresome, by and large he and Abbott give good, funny performances. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't have much of a plot to get involved in, so it's entirely dependent on its routines, some of which work and some of which don't. The film's highlight is the bit with Costello trying to get in touch with a radio show that has just awarded him $10,000 -- depending upon his getting back to them within five minutes. At a phone booth in a drug store he tries to get the ditzy operator on the other end to connect him to Alexander 2222 -- as all sorts of people interfere. (This may have been an old A&C vaudeville routine; in any case it's a classic.) Mary Wickes is fun as a secretary that Lou tries to romance but she doesn't have enough to do, and William Bendix scores as a brusque cop who's even stupider than Costello. Patric Knowles and Louise Allbritton are the obligatory romantic couple, Jerome Cowan is a writer, and William Gargan is the police lieutenant.
Verdict: Some very amusing moments. **1/2.