Directed by: David Butler (Road to Morocco)
Starring: Kay Kyser, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Dennis O'Keefe, Helen Parrish, Ginny Sims
It’s the only film ever to team Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff — let alone to pit them against North Carolina-born big band leader Kay Kyser — and it’s the Asheville Film Society’s Halloween movie this year. You’ll Find Out (1940) has just a little bit of everything. It opens with a recreation of Kyser’s then popular radio show, The Kollege of Musical Knowledge — a kind of comedy-music-quiz program — but soon transports us to a truly impressive old dark house where Kay’s manager (Dennis O’Keefe) has booked the band to play for his girlfriend’s (Helen Parrish) 21st birthday party. Already in residence are the girl’s creepy seance-crazy aunt (Alma Kruger), her live-in mystic (Lugosi) and the shifty-looking family lawyer (Karloff). They will soon be joined by a raft of sorority girls (B-picture fans will spot Louise Currie as the lead girl) and a supposed specialist in exposing fake psychics (Peter Lorre). There’s a plot afoot, of course, to bump off the heiress — and it’s no surprise who is behind it all. But there are some great seances scenes, some good songs (the best one featuring Lugosi leering with undisguised lechery at band-singer Ginny Simms), and splendid villainy from the visiting horror stars. Not a great movie, but a fun one for the season — and the last really A-picture Lugosi was ever in, and he actually has the best role. (Peter Lorre gets the best line, though, when he complains, “Why do I have to waste my time outwitting morons?” after duping Kyser.)
Sharp-eyed viewers may spot Dennis O’Keefe copping a feel on Ginny Simms (and does she look surprised!) late in the film. It occurs just after a rock crashes through a window. Also, if you check out the shelves in Lugosi’s subterranean lair, you can spot some left over models from King Kong (1933). It’s a very handsome production with surprisingly good sound recording and first-rate effects work — not to mention the very effective use of the Sonovox for some of the vocals. Don’t know what the Sonovox was? Well, see the movie and you’ll find out.
The Asheville Film Society will screen You’ll Find Out Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: Big band leader Kay Kyser and his musicians find themselves playing for a birthday party at an isolated old dark house — where the guests include none other than Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. It’s an engaging mix of music, murder and fairly broad comedy, enlivened no end by the three biggest horror icons of all time. Then again, Kyser is a pleasant light comedian and his orchestra — though grounded in a gimmick — are much better swing musicians than is sometimes remembered.