Haunted Honeymoon, 1940

I’m twenty minutes in and still waiting for this to start. At this point, Haunted Honeymoon could be about anything: fishing in Scotland, mystery writing, financing a garage, and, maybe, a honeymoon. Thankfully, Noakes (Roy Emerton) eventually has the good sense to get himself killed, his shady dealings with locals having caught up with him. But no one seems to notice. Upon Lord Whimsey’s (Robert Montgomery’s) and his wife Harriet’s (Constance Cumming’s) arrival at their new home, another interlude of, well, whimsy, ensues.

One hour in and the body is finally discovered. Then, things do get interesting, as any of about a half dozen people are suspects. It is pretty clever how Whimsey solves the mystery. The problem is, do we care about any of the supporting cast enough to be satisfied or disappointed at the denouement? I’m more interested in the cactus, and the poor little stoat whom Whimsey flings at the camera. It’s almost as though, since all the suspects are lower-class, any of them will do as the culprit. Whimsey is so nonchalant about the murder that there’s no sense of drama; the atmospheric only thickens in the relatively short sequence just before the murder, before Whimsey’s arrival. It’s even more odd that Harriet treats the whole deal as a splendid game–Noakes is after all her uncle.

Others have noted, the suitability of Montegomery playing an English Lord is questionable. His performance isn’t at all bad, but he’s missing the Old World charm and sophistication that would be more convincing. Leaving the Whimsey role aside, the movie would’ve been better starting off with Noakes and his enemies circling each other to set the stage for the murder. This should be the crucial part of the plot. We could still have the ‘Whimsical’ newlyweds there to solve the mystery, but more as a subplot to the main action. As it is, Haunted Honeymoon is more of a padded short feature, trying vainly to win us over with a lot of extraneous scenes. The actual honeymoon lies in the couple’s future, and, despite a great old house, there’s no haunting going on. 6/10.

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