Wed 29 Apr 2009
SUPER-SLEUTH. RKO Radio Pictures, 1937. Jack Oakie, Ann Sothern, Eduardo Ciannelli, Alan Bruce, Edgar Kennedy, Joan Woodbury. Director: Benjamin Stoloff. Shown at Cinevent 20, Columbus OH, May 1988.
Jack Oakie plays a popular film sleuth who tries to repeat his success on screen in an off-screen mystery, abetted by studio publicist Ann Sothern (trying to cover up his almost constant mishandling of his amateur sleuthing).
Edgar Kennedy was good as James Gleason’s flat-footed assistant in the delightful Murder on the Blackboard, the second of the Hildegarde Withers/Inspector Piper collaborations with Edna Mae Oliver (1934), shown earlier in the day, but he was even better in Super-Sleuth.
For once, Kennedy comes off as a sympathetic, even competent professional undone by an incompetent amateur, even though the bumbling “Edgar” character lurks somewhere not too far from the surface.
The heavy is Eduardo Cianelli, the unforgettable “assassin” of Gunga Din, and the comic/suspenseful climax has a wax museum as the perfect setting for the conclusion of a film about on- and off-screen detecting.
[EDITORIAL COMMENT.] My usual sources have come up dry as far as finding suitable images to show you. Even more unexpectedly, the movie itself has proven to be elusive, although not impossible to find in the usual collector-to-collector markets. The photo of Edgar Kennedy, a standard publicity shot, source unknown, is not from Super-Sleuth, or at least I’m fairly sure it’s not. — Steve