MR. AND MRS. NORTH. MGM, 1942. Gracie Allen, William Post Jr., Paul Kelly, Virginia Grey, Tom Conway, Millard Mitchell, Keye Luke, Jerone Cowan. Based on the stories by Frances & Richard Lockridge. Director: Robert B. Sinclair.


   For starters, you could refer back to my review of The Patient in Room 18 – you know, my comments about Hollywood and detective mysteries. Gracie Allen gets a solo lead billing in Mr. and Mrs. North, and you know what that means. Disaster, in a word.

   As Pamela North, unlike the stories, she is a chattering nitwit, charming but still a nitwit. George Burns at least had the strength of personality that made it seem reasonable that he could survive living with her for more than a week. William Post, Jr., whom I don’t know — I can’t think of another movie that he was in — is, in contrast, rather bland and ineffectual in the role of Jerry, her greatly put-upon husband.

   What the movie’s about is a good question, and it may even be relevant. After both Pam and Jerry have been out of their apartment for a day — he on a business trip, she to visit her mother (or so she says) — they return home to find a corpse in their closet. (They open the door, and out he falls, on his face.)

   They don’t know the man, at least at first, but then it seems that the paths of the dead man and several of the Norths’ closest friends seem to have been intricately tangled. It takes a while to untangle all of the relationships, none of which (unfortunately) are very interesting.

   That Jerry North is, at several points of time, the number one suspect, means that his close relationship with Lt. Weigand has not yet developed, but by movie’s end, you can see that it’s in the works. This is mostly a comedy picture, though, and if you’re not a fan of Gracie’s, you can easily pass it by.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File 33, Sept 1991 (mildly revised).


[UPDATE] 01-07-09.  A few comments, in no particular order. First of all, nothing that I’ve ever read suggests that this movie was based on any one of the Lockridges’ books, only that it was based on their characters.

   Looking back over this review, I see that I made a big assumption. That the people reading it actually knew who George Burns and Gracie Allen were.

   Maybe it was true in 1991, but even if it was, it has to be even less true now. If you’re more than 10 years younger than I am, follow this link for more information.


   As for William Post, Jr., the all-but-known chap who played Jerry North in this movie, thanks to IMDB, I can now tell you more, but not a lot, since there isn’t a lot to tell.

   Of interest to mystery fans, he appeared in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943), Experiment Perilous (1944), The House on 92nd Street (1945), and Call Northside 777 (1948), but I can’t say that I remember putting a name to his face in any of them.

   It wasn’t until TV came along that there was any other attempt to bring the Mr. and Mrs. North to the screen again. Richard Denning and Barbara Britton played the couple for two seasons, starting in 1952, and they were quite good at it.