Second in the series, with Van Dyke returning. Whereas the first one had Brenon & Borzage cinematographer James Wong Howe, the sequel has Lubitsch & Wellman cinematographer Oliver Marsh. I am guessing nobody noticed. Only Jimmy Stewart’s second year in the movies. He obviously didn’t have his Capra persona down yet if he’s playing a murderer. Oh yeah, Jimmy Stewart is the murderer – that’s the twist ending in this one! If he’d have been played by anyone else, I might’ve seen it coming.
Wait, getting ahead of myself… so Nick and Nora are in the movie from the beginning this time, which is nice. They’re going to visit her rich family, who disapprove of her drunken detective husband. The movie reeeally plays up what a drunk he is this time. It’s intended for comic effect, but gets increasingly disturbing. There will have to be an intervention by movie four… if those had been invented yet. Nick is still retired but gets convinced to do one more job, Nora once again wants to get involved in the detective work but “ohhh no you don’t,” Nick won’t let her. It’d be tired and repetitive if it wasn’t so light and charming. One bit of weirdness that didn’t work for me: their dog Asta gets his own solo scenes. He visits “Lady Asta” from behind a fence and chases another dog who has been visiting her, and apparently getting her pregnant. The dog scenes correlate nicely with all the other couple-infidelity in the human world of the film, but there’s no real resolution to these scenes, and they kinda made me sad for Asta.
Just as many characters as in the first one (and again, they’re all invited to a dinner party in order to determine guilt). I quote an IMDB review: “My favorite is Aunt Katherine, the battle ax to end all battles axes, played by Jessie Ralph (The Bank Dick); and Henry, the rickety old butler played by, would you believe, Tom Ricketts.” Nora’s cousin Selma (Elissa Landi, Count of Monte Cristo) is upset when her lying, cheating husband (Alan Marshal of Hunchback of Notre Dame, House on Haunted Hill) goes missing, then even more upset when he’s found and says he’s leaving her for showgirl Polly (Penny Singleton: Blondie Bumstead and the voice of Jane Jetson). Also involved: club owner Joseph Calleia (Touch of Evil), an asian thug who seems to be a hat-throwing prototype for Oddjob, Selma’s psychiatrist (George Zucco of The Pirate, House of Frankenstein) and a cop (Sam Levene of The Killers, Brute Force, a cop-assisting beardy cultist in God Told Me To).
Cute movie with no apparent quality drop from part one (except for the overdone dog scenes). Judging from the booties-knitting ending, there will be babies in part three.