|Kay Kyser bolstered by Petter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff|
YOU'LL FIND OUT (1940). Director: David Butler.
Playing himself, band leader Kay Kyser brings his College of Musical Knowledge, along with singers Ginny Simms and Harry Babbitt (also playing themselves) to a spooky mansion where resides Janis Bellacrest (Helen Parrish of First Love), who happens to be engaged to Kay's manager, Chuck Deems (Dennis O'Keefe). Before long the group finds itself cut off from everyone with a cut phone line and a bridge that falls apart due to an explosion. Janis' Aunt Margo (Alma Kruger of Craig's Wife) is friends with a spiritualist named Prince Sallano (Bela Lugosi), who seems to be held in little regard by Professor Fenninger (Peter Lorre) and Judge Mainwaring (Boris Karloff). As Kay, Chuck, and alleged comic Ish Kabibble explore secret passages in the old mansion, attempts are made on Janis' life more than once. RKO obviously hedged its bets by bringing in that triumvirate of terror in the persons of Lugosi, Lorre, and Karloff, who get right into the silly spirit of things with marked professionalism and without losing their dignity. Kyser remains a likable presence, although some of the comedy shtick he does in the film is not only unfunny but painful to watch; ditto for Kabibble, whose jokes wouldn't impress a three-year-old. However, O'Keefe [Abroad with Two Yanks] is just right for this kind of material and he and Kyser make an engaging comedy team at different points in the story. Ginny Simms, who was not only Kyser's singer but was involved with him at the time, zestfully sings two nice numbers, including "I'd Know You Anywhere" and "One Track Mind." Late in the picture Kyser has the band instruments imitating human voices with horrific results. There's an amusing business with the dog Prince, who gets phosphorescent paint on his tail at one point, and later on plays catch with a bomb! Experienced director David Butler helps keep this whole thing running more or less smoothly. A number called "The Bad Humor Man" may have made the "Good Humor" ice cream people nervous.
Verdict: Silly, but with some nice numbers and a few laughs, not to mention those horror stars! **1/2.