Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Home Sweet Homicide


Look quickly during the opening credits of HOME SWEET HOMICIDE and you’ll see a picture of Craig Rice on the cover of TIME, as far as I know still the only instance of a mystery writer’s photo appearing on the cover of that magazine. It shows up here because HOME SWEET HOMICIDE is based on Rice’s novel of the same name (which I haven’t read) and because the story is somewhat autobiographical. It concerns a female mystery writer, Marion Carstairs (played by the very attractive Lynn Bari, cast somewhat against type here since she usually played sultry villainesses), her three precocious children (Peggy Ann Garner, fresh off her Academy Award win for A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN the year before), Connie Marshall, and Dean Stockwell (who grew up to play Al on QUANTUM LEAP), a couple of police detectives (the great Randolph Scott and ubiquitous character actor James Gleason), and the murder they all get mixed up in.

You’ll probably figure out the mystery and spot the murderer pretty early on in this 1946 film, but that doesn’t really matter. The fun in HOME SWEET HOMICIDE is in the gentle swipes at the writing game and the publishing business (there’s a nice line about FOREVER AMBER delivered by one of the kids, for example), as well as the domestic comedy centered around trying to raise three children who are probably too smart for their own good. In fact, this movie pretty much belongs to the kids, who try to solve the murder that takes place in their suburban neighborhood so that their mother will get the credit for it. Dean Stockwell is especially good as the conniving ten-year-old who’s saddled with a couple of older sisters.

For a film that’s concerned with murder, HOME SWEET HOMICIDE is a really pleasant movie, as well a nice little slice of post-war Americana. It’s not that easy to find – I think there was an old videotape, but it’s never officially been released on DVD – but it’s out there if you know where to look. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it, especially if you’re a Craig Rice fan.

8 comments:

Rittster said...

James,

Such excellent taste in movies you have! You're a one-man Siskel and Ebert. I wonder how on earth you discover such gems.

I actually just checked around, and if anyone's interested they can watch the whole thing for free on YouTube (it's divided into ten segments lasting 8 or 9 minutes each). Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=WaxxFree#p/search/1/HYz7_AvK6Yw

Rittster said...

There's also a nice bit of business for mystery fans during a scene where the police detective played by Randolp Scott is trying to flatter Lynn Bari's character in order to get information from her. This isn't the exact dialogue, but it goes something like this.

Scott: I've read all your books and think they're great.
Bari: Really? Which was your favorite?
Scott: Uh, the last one.

Bari catches on to his agenda at this point.

Bari: Oh, you mean The Maltese Falcon.
Scott. Yes, that's the one!
Bari: For your information, The Maltese Falcon was written by Dashiell Hammett twelve years ago.

Since the movie was released in 1946 and Falcon was first published as a novel in 1929, the screenwriters obviously screwed up their dates. Unless the movie was made about four or five years earlier and then shelved until
'46, but I doubt that because of the kids ages, and based on movies I've seen with Peggy Ann Garner and Dean Stockwell in from around the same year. But whatever; no need to nitpick.

By the way, I hope that wasn't a "spoiler", although I don't think it was, since it didn't give away any plot points. If I'm wrong please feel free to berate me. And if I'm right, still feel free to berate me, if you're in a berating kind of mood. It's all the same to me.

B.Ritt

Jeff Marks said...

That's great about Youtube. I have an old VHS copy from a TV station about a dozen years ago or so.

Rittster said...

Jeff,

I wouldn't be surprised if your copy was from the same channel mine was recorded from. USA Channel or USA Network, I think.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I liked it, too. As for myster writers on Time, Sara Paretsky appeared on one of those serious mags way back when. Can't recall if it was Time, Newsweek, or what.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Not Time, I checked. Maybe People.

bjm01843 said...

I would love to have a copy of the movie: Home Sweet Homicide. How do i do that?

bjm01843 said...

Forgot to mention that i will also trade for the movie : Home Swet Homicide, if i have to. Thanks