You’ll Find Out (1940); Zombies on Broadway (1945)

Boy, the old comedies really rub your nose in the racial divide.

Apart from that, for a good time and a primer on radio taste in the ’40s, I recommend You’ll Find Out (1940), available from NetFlix as part of a double feature that includes Zombies on Broadway (1945). Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Lorre get top billing these days, but Helen Parrish, Dennis O’Keefe, and the Kay Kyser band are the actual leads in YFO. Oh, and Ish Kabibble (Merwyn Bogue). I can’t remember ever seeing Ish in a movie before, but I do remember him on the radio. He passed away in ’94 at the age of 86, in Joshua Tree, California, of all places. Not much happens in Joshua Tree, I can tell you, but if I had known that he met his Maker there, I would have sought out the plaque and combed my hair into bangs in memoriam.

One thing I like about a lot of  ’40s movies, including this one, is the closeups. Let’s have more closeups! Or maybe closeups are just better in black and white… After typing that, I found myself watching an episode of Lost. There were closeups. Sweaty ones. But none so lovingly, lingeringly done as those in YFO.

Mouth and teeth notes from YFO:

– Karloff is this movie could be Jeremy Irons. Sounds like him, mouth looks like the Irons’ mouth.

– Lorre is sporting false teeth in this one. Sort of Bogart teeth. Why??

– More teeth: Ginny Simms’ choppers – what a set! As she croons, “I’d know you anywhere… from my dreams” the screen is full of teeth.

You may wonder what you’ll find out, exactly, in You’ll Find Out, or what the protagonists find out. I won’t spoil it for you. In fact, I can’t.

I’m old enough to remember going to movies like YFO and ZOB in the ’40s. We’d walk downtown (a few blocks), choose between the Onslow and the State, and catch some advertisements, previews, a newsreel, a cartoon, and a double feature. Our parents might pick up a free bowl or plate on Wednesdays as well. The only time that I remember going to a movie that wasn’t a double feature was a revival of Gone With the Wind.

This was years before we had a TV and we had a full roster of favorite appointment radio shows. I was thinking about that as I watched YFO, because it features Kay Kyser’s band (and Kay himself) and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge, which was popular on NBC.

Zombies on Broadway features Wally Brown and Alan Carney, RKO’s answer to Abbott and Costello. Brown and Carney are no Abbott and Costello, but they made me smile in this one. They’re more like two lesser Costellos. Lame dialog but some good gags. Their zombie work might have inspired the later Abbott and Costello monster movies. This one had lots of big 40s hats and Anne Jeffreys at 22 looking 32; a lot of 30-somethings in the 40s played teenagers or 20-somethings; here’s a case of the opposite.

Sheldon Leonard also appears in ZOB. For some reason, I’ve always loved Sheldon Leonard.

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