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Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher
Cosmo Jones in Crime Smasher

USA 1943
produced by
Lindsley Parsons for Monogram
directed by James Tinling
starring Frank Graham, Edgar Kennedy, Gale Storm, Richard Cromwell, Mantan Moreland, Gwen Kenyon, Herbert Rawlinson, Tristram Coffin, Charles Jordan, Vince Barnett, Emmett Vogan, Maxine Leslie, Mauritz Hugo, Sam Bernard, Gil Stanley
story by Walter Gering, screenplay by Michael L. Simmons, Walter Gering, based on the radio show by Frank Graham

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A crime wave is crippling the city as crime kingpins Jake Pelotti (Tristram Coffin) and Biff Garr (Charles Jordan) are battling for supremacy. The police is pretty much at the end of their wits to stop the underworld goings-on, and the commissioner (Emmett Vogan) blames everything on Chief Murphy (Edgar Kennedy) - and not without some justification mind you. Enter Cosmo Jones (Frank Graham), who has a degree in criminology from a correspondence course and who just happens to stumble over a corpse and later witness a kidnapping attempt. He's taken in for questioning of course, but quickly can prove himself innocent ... but he decides to stick around and offer his advice as councelling detective. Not that he's taken up on that offer, but when Phyllis Blake (Gwen Kenyon), daughter of oil tycoon James J. Blake (Herbert Rawlinson) is indeed kidnapped, he tricks his way into leading the investigation that's to capture the baddies by following their way from the money handover to their hideout and once there smoke them out. But there seem to be too many cooks for that pie so his plans almost go haywire ...

The always dependable Mantan Moreland plays Cosmo's trusted sidekick while the obligatory romantic subplot features Richard Cromwell as well-meaning police sergeant and Gale Storm as the commissioner's secretary.

 

On a story level, Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher hasn't got much to write home about, the plot seems rather generic and constructed without much care for absolute logic. This is also mirrored by the direction, which is as bland as with many Monogram crime comedies from that era, with limited and boring sets not actually adding colour. But the film has three saving graces, and these are Frank Graham, Mantan Moreland and Edgar Kennedy, all in key roles - and these three are just too funny to be hampered by mediocre source material and not only provide plenty of laughs but also a certain depth to their characters that might not even be suggested in the script. So it's not a good film, but worth a watch for those three (and a few other supporting players too in fact).

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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