The Missing Corpse

The Missing Corpse. Producers Releasing Corporation 1945

Before watching the movie:

I just found out about this movie, and it sounds like a lot of fun. A newspaper mogul gets killed and planted in his rival’s car, so the rival then has to hide the corpse to not get charged for the murder, only the body keeps going missing and somehow turning up in conspicuous places.

Some of the names in the cast seem vaguely familiar, but there’s not really anything that would’ve made it stand out except the black box algorithms that control our lives thought I might like it, and for once it looks like they’re right.

After watching the movie:

Henry Kruger, the publisher of the Tribune, has been vexed ever since Andy McDonald bought the rival paper the Daily Argus, finding his family frequently the target of front-page tabloid gossip as McDonald tries to put Kruger out of business. Upon seeing his daughter splashed across the Argus for a late-night diner fight, and finding out she’s been seeing an Argus reporter, Kruger is convinced that McDonald set her up, storms into McDonald’s office, and makes some very public threats against McDonald’s life if he ever does anything like that again. Kruger’s driver Hogan suggests that he’s too obsessed with this rivalry because his family has no time for him, and that he might ought to take a long vacation at his hunting cabin for a rest. But there’s no rest on this vacation, as Kruger finds McDonald’s dead body in the trunk of his car, but when he drives the car out into the woods to dump it, but it’s no longer in the trunk. Hogan moved the body to cover for his boss, but with suspicious police and worried family members all coming to the lodge looking around, no safe hiding place is safe for long.

This slowly sets up the dominos in the first half and lets them fall in a metaphor-salad of a shell game. The farce never seems all that unsafe, just constantly bouncing to the next problem to solve. It’s a little bit of fun that maybe isn’t enough payoff for the setup. The story just suddenly provides the solution when it’s rotated through all the characters.

Nobody in the cast particularly stands out except maybe Hogan, but Hogan and Kruger make a great leading duo. The script doesn’t give people all that much to do. Everyone gets a turn being frightened by the sight of a body, then being assured that there is no body and questioning their own sanity, then someone else comes in and discovers the new hiding place, and it’s fun in execution, but not very remarkable.

Nobody would mistake this for great cinema, but it’s worth a laugh. Once the setups start falling into place, it’s pretty fun. It’s also a lot shorter than the already brief runtime I expected, because the copy I watched turned out to have ten minutes of black screen at the end for some reason, ending up at only 62 minutes. But most of those are laughs.

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