THE LADY IN THE MORGUE. Universal Pictures, 1938. Preston Foster (PI Bill Crane), Patricia Ellis, Frank Jenks (Doc Williams), Bill Elliott (as Gordon Elliott), Barbara Pepper. Screenwriters: Eric Taylor, Robertson White, based on the novel by Jonathan Latimer. Director: Otis Garrett.

   When an unidentified young woman’s body is found in a hotel room bathroom, it is easy to assume that she hung herself. The police, always willing to wrap up a case as quickly as possible, certainly do. PI Bill Crane gets involved only when a representative of a missing girl’s family wants his agency to see if the dead woman is her.

   Also interested in knowing the who the dead girl is are a couple of gangsters who have been rivals for a missing woman’s hand. But when all parties show up at the morgue at the same time, they find her body missing and the morgue attendant knocked on the head and lying dead on the floor.

   Thus begins one of the screwier detective murder mysteries I’ve had the occasion to see in quite a while. What follows is just over sixty minutes of fast-paced clues and action, mixed with cops, hoodlums and a sizable number of attractive dance hall hostesses, debutantes and more.

   You’ll have to pay close attention to the clues that Crane comes across, though. I think there are enough there to make the conclusion hold water, but the emphasis in this sentence is the world “think.” When the movie had ended, and Crane had revealed what was going on in terms who was doing what to whom and where, my head was still spinning. I’m really not sure.

   And to be perfectly sure, I’d have to watch the whole movie again, a possibility I wouldn’t mind in the least. The first time through I was too busy enjoying myself. Madcap detective movies such as this one don’t come along often enough, not nearly so, not for me.