One Body Too Many (1944) starring Jack Haley, Jean Parker, Bela Lugosi
One Body Too Many – insurance salesman Jack Haley stumbles onto an eccentric millionaire’s will, and the murder mystery among his relatives.
Synopsis of One Body Too Many
In One Body Too Many, insurance salesman Albert Tuttle arrives at the Cyrus J. Rutherford estate to sell the millionaire life insurance. But, Rutherford is already dead and his heirs have gathered at the mansion to hear the reading of the will. Rutherford’s will won’t be read until he is properly entombed and the heirs are forced to stay on the premises or be denied their inheritance. Tuttle soon finds himself mixed up in shenanigans involving Rutherford’s niece, secret passages, a missing body and murder.
Murkil: Would you care for the last cup of coffee, sir?
Albert Tuttle: Yes, I would. What kind of coffee is this? You know, there are two classes of coffee, Murkil. There’s the percolated and there’s the drip.
Murkil: This is percolated.
Albert Tuttle: Sorry, I’m a drip.
One Body Too Many is a funny comedy, where insurance agent Albert Tuttle is thrown into a chaotic situation. A wealthy, grumpy man has died, and left his money to various relatives that he doesn’t like. And, he’s infatuated with astrology — to the point that he’s building an observatory, where his body will be interred. But if he’s not buried there, the bequeaths get shuffled around! And, if any of the inheritors die, there’s more for the rest. So soon, there’s mistaken identity, a missing corpse, comedic attempted murders (“Would you care for a cup of coffee?”), and romance brewing. It’s a funny, fast-paced comedy that I enjoyed, and hope you will as well.
- Jack Haley (The Wizard of Oz, Pick a Star) … Albert L. Tuttle. The insurance salesman with terrible timing. Relying on the eccentric millionaire’s love of astrology, he made an appointment to see him a month in advance. Unfortunately, the man died in the interim. And there’s squabbling, and attempted murder, among the relatives who will inherit something if they live long enough.
- Jean Parker (The Flying Deuces, Bluebeard)… Carol Dunlap. Rutherford’s niece, whom he appears to have disliked the least. She soon sets her eyes on Albert.
- Bela Lugosi (The Black Cat, Dracula) … Merkil. The butler, whom Rutherford accused of padding the household bills, to line his pockets. After 20 years of service. He keeps trying to serve poisoned coffee to the other inheritors, in an instance of dark humor.
- Blanche Yurka (A Tale of Two Cities) … Matthews. Housekeeper, who “kept house in a haphazard sort of way”. In league with Merkil.
- Lyle Talbot (Our Little Girl) … Jim Davis. Rutherford disliked him for his “impertinence”.
- Douglas Fowley (Scared to Death) … Henry Rutherford. Nephew, married to Mona. Decent investment councilor.
- Fay Helm (Blondie on a Budget) … Estelle Hopkins. Rutherford’s sister, who married Kenneth against Rutherford’s wishes. And he keeps a grudge …
- Bernard Nedell (Angels Wash Their Faces) … Morton Gellman – Attorney. “Whom I trust implicitly, as far as I can throw an elephant.”
- Lucien Littlefield … Kenneth Hopkins. Rutherford’s “nincompoop” brother-in-law.
- Dorothy Granger (Punch Drunks) … Mona Rutherford. “Wears too much makeup” according to the dead man.
- Maxine Fife … Margaret Hopkins. Rutherford’s niece, whom he’s never seen.
- William Edmunds … Prof. Hilton, who taught Rutherford astrology.
Editorial review of One Body Too Many courtesy of Amazon.com
A big-city salesman, Albert Tuttle, arrives at the spooky mansion of tyrannical millionaire Cyrus Wentworth hoping to sell him an expensive life insurance policy. Tuttle is surprised to find that the prospective customer is lying in his coffin surrounded by greedy heirs awaiting the reading of his will. A mysterious killer is at large, picking off the conniving relatives one-by-one. Trapped by a raging storm, the salesman becomes involved in the family’s double-crossings and death threats. In a spectacular climax atop a mountain observatory, Tuttle comes face-to-face with the murderer. Bela Lugosi manages to steal the show as the creepy butler. While his presence is a dark shadow against the often laughable antics of the ravenous treasure seekers, Lugosi ends up with the film’s funniest lines.