The Nitwits (1935)

81-81.5 mins | Mystery, Comedy | 7 June 1935

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Nitwits and Murder Song . According to a HR production chart, Bill Wells, Etienne Girardot and Robert Middlemass were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Nitwits and Murder Song . According to a HR production chart, Bill Wells, Etienne Girardot and Robert Middlemass were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Mar 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 May 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Feb 35
p. 12.
Film Daily
5 Jun 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 35
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 35
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 35
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 35
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
15 May 35
p. 21.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Mar 35
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald
25 May 35
p. 54.
Variety
26 Jun 35
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to dial
Contr to comedy const
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
SOURCES
SONGS
"Music in My Heart," music and lyrics by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh
"You Opened My Eyes," music and lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Felix Bernard
"The Black Widow Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out," composer undetermined.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Murder Song
Release Date:
7 June 1935
Production Date:
1 March--2 April 1935
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 June 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5627
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81-81.5
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
839
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After music publisher Winfield Lake receives an extortion letter from someone calling himself The Black Widow, his wife Alice insists that he hire William Darrell, a famous private detective, to protect him. As Darrell begins his assignment for Lake, unsuspecting Johnny and Newton, who run the cigar store in Lake's office building, audition their new song, "The Black Widow Is Going to Get You If You Don't Watch Out," for him. Terrified, Lake angrily rejects the song and storms up to his office, where he is greeted by songwriter George Clark, who charges him with cheating on his royalty payments. Lake then accuses Lurch, his auditor, of tampering with the account books and assures Clark that he will investigate the matter. After locking Clark's file in his desk, Lake flirts with his secretary, Mary Roberts, who is also Johnny's girl friend. When Johnny shows up with an unloaded gun to "plug" his song again, he sees Lake being repulsed by Mary and slugs him, then announces that Mary is quitting. While Mary prepares to go, Lake is murdered by The Black Widow, who fires his gun through a hole hidden in the ceiling. Caught hiding on the balcony with Johnny's gun, Mary is arrested in spite of "confessions" from both Johnny and Newton. That night Johnny and Newton visit Mary's jail cell and learn that she saw Lurch trying to break into Lake's desk shortly after the murder. Determined to help Mary, Johnny and Newton return to the Lake Building to plant Newton's "truth device" invention on Lake's chair and then trick Lurch into confessing. At the same time, the police ... +


After music publisher Winfield Lake receives an extortion letter from someone calling himself The Black Widow, his wife Alice insists that he hire William Darrell, a famous private detective, to protect him. As Darrell begins his assignment for Lake, unsuspecting Johnny and Newton, who run the cigar store in Lake's office building, audition their new song, "The Black Widow Is Going to Get You If You Don't Watch Out," for him. Terrified, Lake angrily rejects the song and storms up to his office, where he is greeted by songwriter George Clark, who charges him with cheating on his royalty payments. Lake then accuses Lurch, his auditor, of tampering with the account books and assures Clark that he will investigate the matter. After locking Clark's file in his desk, Lake flirts with his secretary, Mary Roberts, who is also Johnny's girl friend. When Johnny shows up with an unloaded gun to "plug" his song again, he sees Lake being repulsed by Mary and slugs him, then announces that Mary is quitting. While Mary prepares to go, Lake is murdered by The Black Widow, who fires his gun through a hole hidden in the ceiling. Caught hiding on the balcony with Johnny's gun, Mary is arrested in spite of "confessions" from both Johnny and Newton. That night Johnny and Newton visit Mary's jail cell and learn that she saw Lurch trying to break into Lake's desk shortly after the murder. Determined to help Mary, Johnny and Newton return to the Lake Building to plant Newton's "truth device" invention on Lake's chair and then trick Lurch into confessing. At the same time, the police surround the building in order to catch The Black Widow, who is to collect extortion money that has been deposited by Alice and others in the basement. While Johnny and Newton set up their device, Darrell shows up and suggests that they re-enact the crime. By accident, Darrell activates the truth device and confesses that he is The Black Widow, but Johnny and Newton conclude that the device has malfunctioned and proceed with the re-enactment. After the boys barely escape with their lives, Darrell murders Lurch, who has shown up to retrieve Clark's file, and then knocks out Clark as he arrives on the scene. A group of blacks, meanwhile, who have snuck into a costume company office to play a game of craps, discover Darrell's money, which has blown up the ventilation shaft from the basement, in a heating grate. To retrieve his money, Darrell dons a "skeleton" costume and scares the blacks, but is then confronted by Johnny and Newton. After an extended chase and fight involving Darrell, his men, the blacks, and Johnny and Newton, the police burst in and apprehend Darrell. Cleared of all charges, Mary accepts both Johnny's proposal and his pegboard engagement ring. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.