This is an obscure little film that came out in 1994, with an interesting pedigree. Set in the 1940s at a radio station broadcasting of its full lineup of shows, the movie was written by George Lucas, of all people. No Death Stars in sight. It’s a mystery set squarely in it’s time, probably about 1940/41. The costumes, hair styles, songs, and props are pure 1940s, but no one mentions WWII once – so it must be before we got into the Big One (as Archie Bunker pegged it). With its creamy-color 1940s milieu, snappy patter, murder mystery, and recapturing of the seat-of-the-pants craziness that went with putting on an evening of radio programming, the show definitely evokes thoughts of Remember WENN – which was in production about the same time. Fans of Rupert Holmes’s stylish, clever series might be a bit disappointed in the over reliance on slapstick (just slipping past that fine line from funny to irritating), and the wit that is sharp but not quite of the same rapier quality the television series brought us. Nevertheless, the plot is fun and keeps you guessing as performers, sponsors, and programmers are insidiously picked off one by one amidst interruptions of the broadcast with sinister threats before the victims fall to the murderer’s clever vengeance. The cast is great, with Mary Stuart Masterson as the gal-Friday (and really every other day) holding writers, engineers, owners, and performers together with wit and drive – all while resisting the pleas of reconcilement from her soon-to-be ex-husband. Brian Benben (Dream On) plays the determined husband, trying to win back his wife, clear himself of being framed for the crimes and elude the police (while he is frequently disguised as a penguin or a Carmen Miranda wannabe), and solve the murders. At times he tries just a little too hard to be the smart guy, but he’s generally fine. Neat supporting bits from other favorites include Robert Walden (Lou Grant) as an engineer, Larry Miller (as an ACTOR), Michael Mckean as a band leader, and Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Psych) as a snarky ladies-man of an announcer. Bobcat Goldthwait (!), Robert Klein, and Harvey Corman show us as harried and never (let alone under) paid writers. The effects have to be crazy when your soundman is played by Christopher Lloyd. Rosemary Clooney makes an appearance singing “That Old Feeling,” which leads to another caveat with the film. We only get to hear her still gorgeous voice for part of the song, as with the snippets of some other contemporary favorites. Still, it’s an enjoyable hour and forty or so minutes. Click here for a link to the Youtube trailer. There’s more background on the film here.
You can order the film here.