|Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre|
In this black comedy that seems influenced by the Broadway show Arsenic and Old Lace (which itself was filmed two years later) Boris Karloff plays a crazy scientist in a crumbling old inn and Peter Lorre is the sheriff and just about every other official in the area. Winnie Slade (the oddly named Miss Jeff Donell of Night Editor) is a kooky gal who decides to buy the inn even though it's off the beaten track, an idea which her ex-husband Bill (Larry Parks) thinks is nutty. Professor Billing (Karloff) seems to think he can imbue a man with the ability to fly by putting traveling salesmen into a machine he's invented, but they all wind up dead -- apparently. "Slapsy" Maxie Rosenbloom plays a powderpuff salesman, Maude Eburne is a homicidal housekeeper, Frank Puglia [20 Million Miles to Earth] is "Jo Jo," an escaped lunatic, and Don Beddoe [The Face Behind the Mask] is a choreographer who takes a room at the inn. The cast is interesting, to say the least, with Parks and Puglia coming off best, but the material is far, far below the talents of the actors, and both Karloff and Lorre seem a mite uncomfortable, although everyone tries their best to make this funny and spirited, which it ain't. The movie has only a couple of titters and is mostly tedious.
Verdict: Makes a Bowery Boys film look intellectual. *1/2.