Detective Kitty O’Day (1944)

Kitty’s boss breaks up a date between Johnny and Kitty, leaving Johnny very angry. Is that motive enough for murder?

“A glamorous sleuth… ON A MANHUNT!” Kitty O’Day (Jean Parker) is a secretary who thinks she’d make a fantastic detective. Luckily for her, she gets the chance sooner than expected when her boss is murdered. Having been present in his home to type up letters for him at the time of the murder, she is the one who discovers the body, and quickly becomes engulfed in the investigation.

Not-so-luckily, Kitty and her boyfriend Johnny (Peter Cookson) become suspects in the crime. Before the man was killed, a cab driver overheard Johnny threatening to murder the boss, out of anger when Kitty had to skip a date with him due to work. It seems to the investigators that all evidence points to Kitty and/or Johnny. So the couple sets out to uncover the true culprit and save their own hides.

Kitty and Johnny work together to solve the case.

Detective Kitty O’Day was released in 1944. It runs for a short 61 minutes, and was followed by 1945’s Adventures of Kitty O’Day. Not-so-luckily for the viewer, the film feels like it drags on for hours despite its short running time, making it hard to understand why a sequel was picked up for production.

Since this film is a comedic mystery, it should have been right up my alley. My two favorite genres, thrown into one amazing super-genre… it isn’t difficult for mystery-comedies to win me over.

But it takes a while for the film to become even the least bit funny. The beginning comes off much like a plain drama, even up to the point where the corpse is discovered.

Once the script does finally crack a few jokes, they aren’t always carried off well. High-suspense mystery mixed with hysterical hijinks, this film certainly is not.

Kitty gets sneaky in the search for evidence, hiding from a desk clerk so she can sneak into someone’s room.

The laughs do pick up slightly along the way, but in general the film remains slow, unfunny and unsurprising. There are a few quite hysterical gags near the end, but they aren’t enough to make the film lovable.

The performances are, at least, decent. They aren’t fantastic, but are all carried out believably. The stand-out is, of course, Jean Parker in her lead role of the over-the-top and somewhat screechy Kitty. Out of all of the performers, she is able to get the most reaction out of the viewer.

Still, none of these very slight positives can save the film. It’s lackluster and predictable mystery with a few (read as: TOO few) comedic moments mixed in. The overall result is somewhat amusing, but certainly not a film that I would recommend. The score: 1.5/5
*All screen captures used in this post were taken by me. Featured poster image credit: waydoo.de

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3 thoughts on “Detective Kitty O’Day (1944)

    1. I had such high hopes for it! I may still watch the sequel, because I’ve heard that it’s a bit better than this one — maybe/hopefully they learned from their mistakes.

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