One Body Too Many (1944)

β˜…β˜…Β½ / πŸ‘Ž

One Body Too Many (1944) poster

Undistinguished comedy/thriller that drags despite its brief length, but is worth a look for Lugosi completists and aficionados of the Old Dark House subgenre.

Jack Haley stars as an insurance salesman who calls on an eccentric millionaire, only to find that his prospective client has already died. Mistaken for a private detective, the wisecracking but cowardly salesman becomes caught up in the antics of the dysfunctional group gathered for the reading of the will.

Haley does what he can with some very familiar material—some of the film’s funniest bits occur when he’s the only one onscreen—but Bob Hope he ain’t. Bela Lugosi makes the most of his small comic role as a sinister butler whose annoyance at the grasping relatives and hangers-on might actually be homicidal.

There’s slightly more effort expended in justifying the farce than might be expected in such an obvious programmer. The patter is relatively snappy, and it’s neat to see Lugosi have the chance to earn some legitimate laughs (such as they are) while still retaining his dignity.