One Body is… – One Body Too Many (1944)

One Body Too Many is a mystery film with some comedy and horror thrown in for good measure and while it is never all that bad, it is not a film that anyone would remember a week after seeing it. The movie would star Jack Haley, a man who was most famous for playing the Tin Woodsman in the Wizard of Oz more than anything else and in a much smaller role, Bela Lugosi who would portray a servant and a man who would never reach the heights of his earlier fame ever again. Here Haley is a reporter who stumbles into a mystery in which Lugosi also plays a part. Additionally starring Jean Parker as the female lead, Maxine Fife, Blanche Yurka, Lyle Talbot and a few others, the film sets up a fun little plot device which calls for everyone to be involved and stuck in a house together at that, one where the walls soon close in upon them all.

Frank McDonald directs from a script by William H. Pine and Maxwell Shane and the two pepper the film with some witty quips and light humour, though a touch of it is slightly dated. To that effect, if the movie had garnered a different leading man who was a little stronger in the laughs department than Haley, it might have ended up being a little better. As it is, Haley was decent as the star of the picture and considering the performances of Lugosi and Parker, they actually made the man better as playing off of them served to bolster his actions. For his part, it would have been nice to see Lugosi have a bigger role in the film, the man always being criminally underused. Part of that fault rests on the studio’s shoulders and part of it on his, but even during his later years and all that he would put his body through after years of abuse, the man still held a well of talent within. In this particular film, the man is funny and proves that he still has what it takes, no matter how small the part.

Overall, One Body Too Many is still fairly enjoyable, though it does run a bit long. It feels like the makers of this film needed to pad it out for whatever reason and it is one of the few glaring problems really noticeable throughout. Aside from that, it will provide the audience with a bit of fun, but that is about as far as it goes.

2.5 out of 5

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