Scare Comedy with no scares and little comedy, but...
Ever get deflated as the opening credits roll? Today's presentation was brought to us by Al Werker and writer Lou Breslow, the comic geniuses who gave us another 'scare comedy' that deserves its air quotes, A-Haunting We Will Go. Needless to say, I didn't go into this with high expectations.
Brenda 'That Other Jane' Joyce has inherited, of all things, a wrecked pirate ghost ship(!) that she doesn't want, but it's reputed to hold a hidden fortune in diamonds, so a lot of OTHER people want it, notably crazy ship steward John Carradine and his insane wife (our male star, the one I haven't gotten to yet, alternately refers to her by such sobriquets as Moronica Lake and Alice Blue Goon, et al), encyclopedia salesman Grady Sutton, plus a WHOLE bunch of other people, one of whom has a scar and peers in portholes a lot.
Our reason for being here, though, is Mr. Milton Berle, who solves real-life cold cases on his popular radio show, and he's promised to solve the decade-old mystery of who killed the previous owner of the pirate ghost ship, only it turns out he doesn't actually KNOW, so to save his show and his career, he's going to have to snoop around amongst all those people on the boat, with the help of sidekick Euclid, Willie Best, so you know what HE'S gonna contribute to the picture.
Berle: 'Don't be so nervous, Euclid.'
Best: 'I ain't nervous, Boss.'
Berle: 'Then stop biting my nails.'
Those low expectations really helped with this one; as scare comedies go, it has surprisingly few laughs: the mile-a-minute quips that Bob Hope brought to the films that this thing intends to emulate simply aren't here, so Berle seems awfully sluggish. About the best he can rouse up is 'If you ever went to a mind-reader, he'd charge you half price.' That sort of thing.
On the other hand, if it falls way short of the Hope/Goddard things, or even Abbott & Costello, it's better than the Red Skelton, Jack Haley, and Brown & Carney scare comedies that I've seen in my all-too-short lifetime. It's pleasant enough, and I was in the mood for it. On the late-late show, it'd be considered to be fairly good, I'm thinkin'. As a change of pace. You know.