"A Slight Case of Murder" is the title of both a late Thirties Edward G. Robinson country house murder farce and and a late Nineties black comedy starring William H. Macy. Both are very good and happily available on DVD.
Edward G. Robinson's A Slight Case of Murder (1938) is based on the 1935 play of the same title by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay. Like the play, the film tells the story of New York gangster and bootlegger Remy Marco (Robinson), who decides to go "legit" as a brewer with the end of Prohibition and become a respectable businessman.
|Remy has an idea|
Huber, Jenkins, Robinson
More trouble on the horizon: Unbeknownst to Remy, Mary is engaged to Dick Whitewood (Willard Parker), the scion of an old upper class family in Saratoga Springs, where Remy has taken a country house for the season. Remy wants Mary to marry "up," so to speak, but the problem here is that Dick, at Mary's behest, has taken a job--as a state trooper. Cops and their ilk are something that Remy simply can't abide.
Meanwhile, up at Saratoga Springs an armored truck full of bookie's money has been robbed by old cronies of Remy's and the gang of crooks has holed up with the boodle at Remy's house. One of the crooks shoots the the others, leaving four dead bodies at Remy's place. (He also keeps hanging around trying to get the money out of the house unobserved.)
|Remy's little helpers|
Huber, Jenkins, Brophy
There's yet more complication, like when Dick Whitewood's snobbish "old money" father (Paul Harvey) shows up to scout out his prospective in-laws. You get the idea by now: it's going to be a most frantic country house party!
I quite enjoyed this movie. Edward G. Robinson of course is one of the great contributors to the crime film genre, known, like James Cagney, for playing tough gangsters in films like Little Caesar and Key Largo, but like Cagney he actually had great range and was equally adept at comedies like A Slight Case of Murder and "straight" dramas as well, like Dr. Erlich's Magic Bullet, based on a real life man of medicine who courageously battled the scourge of syphilis. He also played sympathetic characters in classic noirs like Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window.
|Breaking some bad news to the wife|
Donnelly and Robinson
What with all those bullet-riddled bodies upstairs, A Slight Case of Murder is most definitely a crime film, but it's also a film most definitely played for laughs, like a French farce without the sex. (The movie's young lovers are exceedingly wholesome.) But if you allow that murder can share the stage with mirth, you should like A Slight Case of Murder--and not just slightly.