Friday, June 19, 2015


There is trouble at the fashion house of Madame Celeste. One night, the obnoxious but rich Mrs. Van Allen keeps everyone past closing as she chooses a dress while insulting all the models and trying the patience of her milquetoastish husband. Stock boy Jimmy (Robert Lowery) is dating wholesome model Peggy (Marjorie Weaver), but when sluttish model Yvonne makes a pass at him, she and Peggy tangle. Later, when the Van Allens have finally left, Jimmy opens the dumbwaiter and finds Yvonne's dead body. There is no lack of suspects: Yvonne had caused problems for Madame Celeste and her husband Jacques, who is the real designer behind the Madame Celeste name; Yvonne was also dating the older, wealthy Mr. Davis who had given her a very expensive brooch that he now wants back; and because Jimmy was overheard telling Peggy he'd strangle Vvonne to get her off his back, he's the prime suspect. When Madame Celeste's husband is found dead in a delivery truck driven by Jimmy, Jimmy's arrested, but Peggy dresses up as his sweet old granny and springs him; together, they try to find the real killer.

You might not guess from that summary, but this B-thriller is primarily a comedy, and it throws everything but the kitchen sink at the screen trying to keep us amused. It works on occasion, especially near the end when Jimmy and Peggy, pretending to be mannequins, are put in a store window and undressed by an addled window dresser (see picture at right), much to the amusement of a growing crowd on the street. Lowery and Weaver make an appealing couple, and Weaver has a little more backbone than the average B-heroine. Tim Ryan is about average as the bumbling cop, and Lorna Gray makes for a nicely nasty Yvonne. I also enjoyed the short appearances of Nell Craig as Mrs. Van Allen. The mystery plot itself is fun with (for me) an unexpected twist in the identity of the culprit. Enjoyable B-fluff. [Netflix streaming]

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