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Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939)

Approved | | Comedy | 22 December 1939 (USA)
Scotty Hamilton is a reporter who works for a crooked editor. Bill Banning is another reporter who is about to expose the editor's ties to the mob. When the editor is killed, both reporter ... See full summary »


Frank Tuttle


Edward Eliscu (screenplay), Richard Mack (screenplay) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview:
Edgar Bergen ... Edgar Bergen
Charlie McCarthy ... Charlie McCarthy
Mortimer Snerd ... Mortimer Snerd
Robert Cummings ... Scotty Hamilton
Constance Moore ... Sheila Stuart
John Sutton ... Bill Banning
Louis Calhern ... Arthur Aldrich
Edgar Kennedy ... Inspector Dailey
Samuel S. Hinds ... Court Aldrich
Harold Huber ... Tony Garcia
Warren Hymer ... Dutch
Ray Turner ... Harrison 'Gravy' Randolph


Scotty Hamilton is a reporter who works for a crooked editor. Bill Banning is another reporter who is about to expose the editor's ties to the mob. When the editor is killed, both reporter Banning and mobster Tony Garcia are suspected. However, Hamilton's friend Edgar Bergen solves the case (without much help from Charlie McCarthy). Written by Richard Nathan <Richard-Nathan@worldnet.att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Christmas Comes Three Days Earlier This Year!




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

22 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie McCarthy detective See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cave Dwellers (1991) See more »


How Was I To Know?
Written by Eddie Cherkose and Jacques Press
Sung by Constance Moore
See more »

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User Reviews

what a bunch of dummies!
25 April 2005 | by FieCrierSee all my reviews

I don't think I'd ever seen anything with Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy apart from in a Biography on Bergen's daughter. Not too impressed by them! Candice Bergen is definitely more talented than her father.

Bergen and McCarthy have an act following a singer at a club. McCarthy is dressed up as Sherlock Holmes. Whether he's actually supposed to be a detective, I'm not sure. Dummy Mortimer Snerd also shows up from time to time, never held by Bergen. Charlie is occasionally left alone by Bergen, and will speak and move by himself on those occasions. The rest of the time he's being carried around.

Movie magic could have allowed Bergen and McCarthy to speak at the same time, but Bergen is actually doing his ventriloquism, for whenever McCarthy speaks, Bergen's lips are very obviously moving.

The movie has a fairly simple plot, I guess. A man has information on a newspaper owner's ties to a criminal, and various people try to protect him from being killed. The way it is played out just seems crazy, and I had some trouble following it and my grandmother was pretty lost.

Ray Turner plays a bootblack nicknamed "Gravy" (check out his filmography - it's depressing). Unfortunately, the role is a stereotypical one. When we first meet him, he's on trial for stealing a man's shoes. The judge decides to turn to Charlie McCarthy to decide how to decide the case - McCarthy and Bergen are sitting right next to him. What the heck?

Gravy's eyes bug out, he runs at the least hint of trouble, he's scared of ghosts and zombies. Other characters call him "boy." Oh boy.

At one point, the newspaper owner shows off a surrealist painting he owns. If not a Dali, it's very much his style. A woman is sitting on a beach with parasols, perhaps nude, her back turned. There's a square cutout through her torso like a window. The purpose of the scene? Not sure! It seems to be there so McCarthy can make some lame jokes (Aldrich: "This is a surrealist painting." McCarthy: "Sur-really...?") and so Gravy has something else to spook him.

Everything ends in a big free-for-all, with people running around, fighting, falling through elevator shafts and laundry chutes. Bergen figures out a clue, and there is a surprise regarding one of the killings in the movie. As a mystery, it's pretty much a dud. As a comedy, it's pretty lame too, but it's occasionally funny.

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