Who Done It?

Overview

With only a minimal romantic subplot and no music whatsoever, Who Done It? is pure, undiluted Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and a good mystery on its own to boot. Bud and Lou star as Chick Larkin and Mervyn Milgrim, a pair of soda jerks who aspire to become radio detective-show writers their latest epic is "The Midget Gets the Chair-or, Small Fry". Invited by their radio-scrivener pal Jimmy Turner Patric Knowles to attend a broadcast of the "Murder at Midnight" program, Chick and Mervyn are on hand when network ...
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Overview

With only a minimal romantic subplot and no music whatsoever, Who Done It? is pure, undiluted Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and a good mystery on its own to boot. Bud and Lou star as Chick Larkin and Mervyn Milgrim, a pair of soda jerks who aspire to become radio detective-show writers their latest epic is "The Midget Gets the Chair-or, Small Fry". Invited by their radio-scrivener pal Jimmy Turner Patric Knowles to attend a broadcast of the "Murder at Midnight" program, Chick and Mervyn are on hand when network president Colonel Andrews Thomas Gomez is murdered just before delivering a vital patriotic message. While waiting for the official police to show up, Chick and Mervyn decide to try to solve the case on their own, thereby securing their reputations as writers. The boys manage to convince everyone-even the real killer-that they're genuine gumshoes, only to be exposed when the real cops, Moran William Gargan and Brannigan William Bendix arrive on the scene. Ultimately, the murderer is revealed, leading to an exciting rooftop chase, with poor Mervyn suspended between two skyscrapers on a slender electrified wire. The comic highlights of Who Done It? are too numerous to mention here, but they include Mervyn's misadventures in the radio-transcription room, his confrontations with a wise-guy page boy Walter Tetley, his "Not watts, volts!" exchange with the exasperated Chick, and an athletic interlude with those world-famous tumblers, the Flying Bordellos sic!. Best bit: Upon winning a quiz program, the boys eagerly turn on their prize, a portable radio--only to turn it off in disgust when Abbott and Costello sign on the air "Every time you hear those guys, it's 'Who's on First-What's On Second!'"
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
A classic example of less being more -- especially when the "less" consists mostly of {Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in their prime -- Erle C. Kenton's 77-minute Who Done It? was a better night's entertainment than many a more expensive and longer-running feature from Universal. For starters, it had a perfect script, one that -- in much the same manner as the comic duo's subsequent Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein -- managed to embrace many of the best elements of the genre (and sub-genre) that it was parodying. In this case, those genres were movie murder mysteries and radio who-done-its -- the script by Stanley Roberts and Edmund Joseph puts together a perfect array of potential suspects and red herrings, played by such familiar character actors as Jerome Cowan, Ludwig Stossell, and Don Porter, while co-writer John Grant works the Abbott and Costello gag material for all it is worth and more, and director Kenton keeps the forward momentum running full blast, mostly letting up to give the two comics as much screen time as they and their gags needs -- he only slips up a little bit in slowing down when it's time for Louise Albritton and Patric Knowles to justify their paychecks as the requisite romantic couple; and he makes up for this with some great bits with Mary Wickes; and William Bendix turns in an amazingly funny performance as the comic foil to Lou Costello's antics. Amid such comedic joys, it's almost a shame to have seriously note Who Done It? simply as a delightful cultural artifact, as a reminder to twenty-first century audiences of precisely how immensely important radio was as a medium in the early 1940s -- movies are never even mentioned anywhere in Who Done It?, but the whole world does seem to revolve around radio for all of its characters (even those not in the business, including the two police detectives), which it did in those years; and men like Thomas Gomez's Colonel J. R. Andrews were considered among the most important in media and business in those years, on a level that no television executive of the next generation (apart from Paley and Sarnoff, who started in radio -- and for whom television was merely an extension of their established success -- and, especially in the case of Sarnoff, were the models of Andrews' character) could ever approach.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/7/2000
  • UPC: 096898559133
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bud Abbott Chick Larkin
Lou Costello Mervyn Milgrim
Patric Knowles Jim Turner
William Gargan Lieutenant Moran
Louise Allbritton Jane Little
Thomas Gomez Col. J.R. Andrews
William Bendix Brannigan
Don Porter Art Fraser
Jerome Cowan Marco Heller
Mary Wickes Juliet Collins
Ludwig Stossel Dr. Anton Marek
Walter Tetley Elevator Boy
Edmund MacDonald Jenkins
Bobby Barber Technician in Booth
Gladys Blake Telephone Operator
Margaret Brayton Radio Actress
Eddie Bruce
Paul Dubov
Edward Emerson Announcer
Alice Fleming
Jerry Frank Customer No. 2
Shemp Howard Goof
Edward Keane Carter
Joe Kirk Thompson
Milton Parsons Coroner
Frank Penny Spinelli
Harry Strang Truck Driver
Crane Whitley Radio Actor
Duke York
Technical Credits
Erle C. Kenton Director
Alex Gottlieb Producer
John Grant Screenwriter
Arthur D. Hilton Editor
Edmund Joseph Screenwriter
Jack Otterson Art Director
Stanley Roberts Screenwriter
Hans Salter Score Composer
Frank Skinner Score Composer
Charles Van Enger Cinematographer
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