Directed by David Butler [Other horror films: N/A]
While generally inconsequential, this rarely-spoken about film is a lot of fun, and it’s cast alone definitely makes it one that any fan of classic horror should set some time aside for, as You’ll Find Out has a damn good cast.
The story isn’t anything overly new – large mansion, stormy night, a young woman (Helen Parrish) facing constant danger from mysterious would-be killers (they don’t stay mysterious long, and truth be told, I was going to reveal their identities later in the review), it’s pretty typical of 30’s and 40’s horror. The musical and comedic additions add a bit more zest, but fundamentally, the plot isn’t worth writing home about.
What they did, though, with the plot, no matter how derivative it is, was pretty fun. The seance sequences were great, and I personally loved the second seance, what with the protagonists attempting to set a trap for the antagonists, not knowing the antagonists are anticipating it. I had a lot of fun with it, and thought it was pretty swell, as they’d say in those days.
So much of this tired plot works due to the inclusion of actors Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff, all of whom are involved in criminal conspiracy to kill Parrish’s character. None of this is really kept under wraps, so it’s not that much a surprise, and because of that, we got a few scenes of two or three of these masters scheming together, which was a treat.
All three of these people, Lugosi, Lorre, and Karloff, are extraordinarily important to the horror genre. I won’t list the extensive resumes, but Lugosi is perhaps best well-known for his portrayal of Dracula, the Universal classic. Likewise, Karloff portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein, one of my personal favorite Universal movies. Peter Lorre, while many might recognize more from The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) or M (1931) starred in the criminally underrated Mad Love (1935), a movie I absolutely, dare I say, love madly. The three of them starring in this film brought to it far more flair than You’ll Find Out otherwise would have dreamed of attaining.
None of that is to say that the other performances were under par, but none of them have the star power of those three legends. Kay Kyser was a bandleader and radio personality during the 1930’s and 1940’s, and while I’m not familiar with him or his music, I’m not a stranger to big band/swing, as I give Glenn Miller and his orchestra a whirl or two somewhat often. As such, Kyser was often a bit too peppy for me, but he did grow on me as the film went on (and given his almost Woody Allen appearance, made for an interesting protagonist).
The twice aforementioned Helen Parrish was a pretty face for the role, and did a good job with what she had to work with, but ultimately didn’t leave a huge impression on me either way. The same could be said for Dennis O’Keefe, who was the far more typical protagonist of these types of films, and while certainly not a bad actor, it’s not his efforts here that made the film memorable.
What did help with that, though, were the musical pieces. Like I said, I’ve occasionally listened to big band music before, and this stuff was certainly catchy and enjoyable, though I personally prefer more vocals in my music. Luckily, we have some vocal pieces, and the two that stood out most positively were ‘I’d Know You Anywhere’ and ‘I’ve Got a One Track Mind,’ both sung by Ginny Simms. Simms’ isn’t someone I’m familiar with, but I personally got an Ella Fitzgerald feel from here, and really loved her singing. ‘The Bad Humor Man’ was another piece that stood out, because it’s just as much a theater play as a song, and I thought that was pretty cool.
You’ll Find Out isn’t the type of movie that would wow people who go in looking for cheap thrills, as there aren’t a whole lot of them here. Sure, there were some good detective scenes in multiple hidden passages, and the seances were both somewhat spooky (in a very hooky way), but the comedy somewhat emasculates any of the real potential terror to be felt in this flick, and I admit, the music doesn’t do a lot to help either. Still, with the star power in this movie, I thought it was a lot of fun, and definitely a movie that was worth seeing.