AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Charlie McCarthy, Detective
Director: Frank Tuttle (Dir)
Release Date:   22 Dec 1939
Duration (in mins):  78
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Cast: Edgar Bergen  (Himself)
   (Harrison "Gravy" Randolph)
  Robert Cummings  (Scotty Hamilton)

Summary: Reporter Bill Banning and his pal, Joe Felton, are compiling evidence that links magazine publisher Arthur Aldrich to racketeer Tony Garcia when they are framed by Aldrich and jailed in Central America. Joe manages to escape and travels to New York, where he turns to Bill's fiancĂ©e, singer Sheila Stuart, and fellow writer Scotty Hamilton for help in freeing Bill. Before he can testify to the police, however, Joe is murdered and the authorities refuse to accept Scotty's story. Soon after, Bill escapes and decides to pay a visit to Aldrich. Learning of Bill's freedom, Aldrich summons Garcia to eliminate the reporter, and they all converge upon the Aldrich estate on the night of a big party. As Bill breaks into the house to confront Aldrich, Garcia stalks him. Two gun shots bring the assembled guests to Aldrich's room, where they find Aldrich's dead body. Inspector Dailey of the police department is then summoned, and as he questions the partygoers about the night's events, suspicion points to Bill. Party guests ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy, decide to undertake their own investigation while Garcia orders his gang to kidnap Bill and Sheila and bring them to the Club Gardenia. Edgar's hunch also leads him and Scotty to the Club Gardenia, where their appearance disrupts Garcia's plans, allowing Sheila and Bill to escape. As Garcia's men pursue the intruders through the bowels of the club, Edgar discovers a police officer who had been imprisoned by the gang, and sends him for reinforcements. While a fistfight rages in the club's basement, Edgar calmly pieces together the clues and deduces that Garcia's bullet missed Aldrich and that Scotty is the murderer. Overwhelmed by his guilt, Scotty confesses that he felt powerless against Aldrich's corruption and took the law into his own hands. When the police arrive to arrest Garcia for Joe's murder, Scotty confesses to Aldrich's murder, thus freeing Bill of all suspicion. 

Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Co.
Production Company: Universal Pictures Co.
Director: Frank Tuttle (Dir)
  Ralph Ceder (2d unit dir)
  Fred Frank (Asst dir)
Producer: Frank Tuttle (Prod)
  Jerry Sackheim (Assoc prod)
Writer: Edward Eliscu (Scr)
  Harold Shumate (Scr)
  Richard Mack (Scr)
  Robertson White (Orig story)
  Darrell Ware (Orig story)
  Hal Block (Contr to dial)

Subject Major: Murder
  Publishers and publishing
  Ventriloquists and ventriloquism
Subject Minor: Central America
  Confession (Law)
  False arrests
  New York City

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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