Movie Review: One Body Too Many (1944)

Synopsis: When eccentric millionaire Cyrus Rutherford dies, his final instructions say some of his heirs will receive $500,000 and the rest $1.50 for cab fare. However, if he is not interred in a glass-roofed vault as instructed and is buried instead, the terms of his unread will would reverse. As Rutherford's heirs plot against each other, an insurance salesman, Albert Tuttle, arrives at the house and, thanks to Rutherford's beautiful niece, Carol, winds up in the middle of things.

Who's in it? The movie stars Jack Haley, Bela Lugosi, Jean Parker, Blanche Yurka and Lyle Talbot.

Review: I came across this movie a few days ago and thought it looked interesting enough to add to my library. I had an opportunity to watch it this morning and, while it wasn't as funny as I thought it might be, it still ended up being entertaining.

Overall, I thought the plot of this film was unique and interesting. Even though the heirs didn't know how much Rutherford left them, his letter gave clues about what he thought about them and, as a result, you had family members who wanted his wishes fulfilled while others wanted to disobey him so they would end up with his fortune. It made me wonder if Rutherford had an ulterior motive, such as tricking the family members he didn't like into sacrificing the fortunes he had secretly left them.

On top of it, there was a solid mystery about which of the family members were taking things a step further by murdering people. One of them, the butler (Lugosi) seemed fairly obvious, especially when he kept trying to serve people (poisoned?) coffee, but there were multiple other possibilities too. The motive behind the murders was also a mystery since killing off the heirs didn't guarantee the others would get more money.

At first, I wasn't too sure about Tuttle (Haley), just because I felt like he would distract from the plot rather than help it. However, his comedic antics did help to tie things together and I especially liked how he wound up trapped inside a secret corridor, wearing nothing but a towel, and interacting with most of the other characters while trying to stay hidden and, later, looking like he might be the killer.

I thought the ending to the movie was OK, though I do feel like it could have used some sort of surprise twist. The scene on top of the telescope was at least somewhat suspenseful and the murderer's reveal wasn't as obvious as some other movies I've watched in this genre.

Final Opinion: Overall, I think this ended up being a decent movie that, at minimum, exceeded my expectations. It's worth taking the time to watch at least once.

My Grade: B+


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