© 1940 Columbia Pictures Corporation

Blondie Has Servant Trouble (1940)

In the sixth installment of the Blondie series, the producers decided to make a comedy-horror of the type Abbott and Costello would capitalize on several years later. This one takes place largely outside the Bumstead home and the Dithers Construction Company office, so many of the familiar gags are gone, and the plot of this one is actually rather complex compared to earlier films in the series. Blondie complains to Dagwood that she is too busy at home and wants a servant. When Dagwood asks his boss for a raise to pay for a maid, he suggest that they spend the weekend at the mansion of a manufacturer of magic props who recently died, and left Dithers in charge of his estate. Dithers and Dagwood are sure that once Blondie has a taste of the rich life, she will give up on the whole idea of having a maid. When they arrive at the dark, eerie house, they find a man cowering in the shadows. It turns out he has accepted the dare of staying in a haunted house in order to join a lodge. This role is played by African-American character actor Ray Turner, who seems to have been pigeonholed into playing bit parts who were scared out of their wits. I have never seen him in any other film, but judging from his filmography on imdb.com, this is actually might be one of his more substantial roles. A maid and butler couple appear, who the Bumsteads assume Dithers has sent. Strange things begin to happen in the house and behind it all is the mentally unhinged butler, whose magic trick inventions were stolen by the late owner of the house. In the end, the convoluted plot is just an excuse to show some corny magic and horror gags, which make this enjoyable in a quaint way.

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