He Watched It Sober.

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You'll Find Out

a/k/a Here Come the Boogeymen

"It looks like the perfect spot for a murder."

-- Ish Kabbible    




Gonzoid Cinema




Ladies-n-Gents, Boils and Ghouls, please put your hands together for Little Peter Lorre and the Coffin-Makers!

And to think, they came about [--this--] close to having their own musical number. Wow.


Watch it!



Sights &
Find Out
 RKO-Radio Pictures

Straight Off
the Cobb:
More Korny
Kaiser Komedy.

That's Right - You're Wrong

You'll Find Out


My Favorite Spy

Swing Fever

Around the World

Carolina Blues


Our film opens with bandleader Kay Kyser wrapping up another edition of his radio program, with a grand finale that allows the spotlight to fall on all of his featured performers: Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason, and the dour-faced comedy relief of trumpeter, Ish Kabibble (a/k/a Merwyn Bogue). Watching in the wings, the band's manager, Chuck Deems (Dennis O'Keefe), hashes out the next gig with his girl, Janis Bellacrest (Helen Parrish). Seems being Chuck's girlfriend has its perks and advantages, namely having Kyser and the gang perform privately for your 21st birthday party at stately Bellacrest Manor.

After the show ends and the theater empties, a sense of foreboding looms and shadowy figures lurk about, and then Janis almost gets flattened by a runaway car! And while Chuck assumes the driver was drunk, Janis feels more sinister forces are at work as this was her fourth brush with catastrophe in as many days. Her growing suspicions of foul play targets a Prince Saliano, a mystical medium, who Janis feels has bamboozled her aunt Margo (Alma Kruger), to whom Janis' late father, the famed explorer Elmer Bellacrest, put in charge of the family fortune until his daughter comes of age. Having convinced her aunt that he can channel the spirit of her dead brother, Janis isn't as easily swayed and believes Saliano is a fake and is leeching money from her family -- and part of Janis' plan during the big birthday celebration is to expose these shenanigans. To do this, she's also contacted Dr. Karl Fenninger, the famous debunker, whose agreed to attend as well.

Big band swing, séances, and murder ... Man, this is shaping up to be one helluva birthday party...


Quick: I'll bet you can't name the only movie that stars Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre -- a fine triumvirate of the grand masters of horror if I do so declare, and I do -- all at the same time?

The answer is You'll Find Out.

[You're supposed to say "When?"]

No, it's You'll Find Out.

[Now get a little indignant and say "Fine. Just tell me when."]

Hah. You don't understand. The name of the movie is You'll Find Out.

[Now get more indignant and say "I give up, already. What is it? I don't have all day, Sparky."]

Third base.

Okay, enough of these Abbott and Costello shenanigans, we're talking about You'll Find Out, the second movie vehicle for bandleader Kay Kyser and his swinging big band. Here, the Ol' Professor and The Kollege of Musical Knowledge goes toe to toe with a trio of cool ghouls while trying to survive the night in a secluded haunted mansion that's honeycombed with secret passages and put the kibosh on a nefarious murder plot.

Apparently, James King Kern Kyser couldn't read music, couldn't sing, and couldn't play an instrument, but had such charisma and popularity at the University of North Carolina that several friends asked him to be the conductor and front-man for their fledging combo. When Kyser accepted, he adopted his middle initial and Kay Kyser was born. And since the band kinda stunk, they had to overcompensate with the wild antics and stunts from their bandleader. Over time, they got better, adding better musicians, singers and arrangers, but kept the stunts and antics in anyway. Blessed with some good vocal talent with Simms, Babbit and Mason, Kyser was also provided a solid comic foil for his hyperactivity in the form of Merwyn's Ish Kabibble -- which in Yiddish means "What, me worry? -- and now that I think about it, there is more than a passing resemblance between Merwyn and Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neumann.

Anyways, as the band improved and started getting steady gigs, it became pretty popular, regionally, in the 1930's. And one of those steady gigs was at the Blackhawk Club in Chicago, and it was here, on amateur night, that Kay's Klass -- where he would good-naturedly rib and quiz the locals -- eventually morphed into the full-blown and out of control chaos of the Kollege of Musical Knowledge, where contestants competed with each other and the audiences for cash prizes. Soon after, the show was picked up nationally and exploded, resulting in eleven #1 records and 35 more in the Billboard's Top Ten.

Naturally, Hollywood came calling. Seven times.

Kyser and his band answered the call first for That's Right -- You're Wrong, which proved to a be a big hit but was more of a traditional Hollywood musical. The second, You'll Find Out, was going to be a little different. At the time, another phenomenon was taking place in the movies. Comedian and radio personality Bob Hope had just zinged his way through two very successful murder in the haunted mansion mysteries: The Cat and the Canary and The Ghostbreakers. (Red Skelton would go on to star in similar vehicles as The Fox, starting with the hilarious Whistling in the Dark.) Deciding this would provide a good framework for Kyser's antics, RKO arranged to throw a trio of boogie-woogie-boogey men -- stress on the BOO at him, and here's how it turned out...

As the tour bus bounces toward the secluded mansion -- the only way to get to it is by a single road that's bottlenecked by narrow wooden bridge, the prerequisite storm breaks. Lightning flashes and thunder booms (-- but oddly enough, it never starts raining), and while the rest of the band unloads the equipment and sets up, Kay and Chuck take a tour of the kooky venue. Turns out Bellacrest Manor is basically Robert Ripley's wet dream, teeming with exotic and oddball artifacts that were collected by Elmer during his world travels. And some of the collection proves deadly, as we get some plot specific details about a blow-gun and poison darts adorning the wall ... We're then introduced to daffy Aunt Margo, who immediately latches on to Kay, who in turn has a hard time prying her loose. Somehow, she has gotten it into her head that Kyser believes in all this supernatural goobledy-gook, too, and is anxious to "pierce the veil" and talk to the dead with him. Also lurking about is Elmer's old partner, Judge Mainwaring. Apparently, Mainwaring (Boris Karloff) was present when Elmer was looting -- sorry, collecting artifacts from an African temple when the natives cashed in his chips. Later, after finally detaching Margo from his hip, Kyser finds his bedroom, and while changing for the show, he's spooked by the reflection of someone standing behind him. Meet Prince Saliano (Bela Lugosi), who warns Kyser that the house is full of spirits -- and those spirits don't like the skeptical.

Meanwhile, the creepy evening wouldn't be complete without a shadowy, cloaked figure lurking about. And as Janis and Ginny dress for the party, Janis suddenly spots such a figure lingering outside her window and screams. But when Ginny checks outside, whoever it was has disappeared. On the way back in, Ginny's dress is caught in the door and ruined, so Janis insists she wear one of her gowns. In the hallway, through a secret panel hidden behind a mask on the wall, sinister eyes watch their door and then the plot-specific blow gun sticks out of the mask's mouth. When the door opens, the killer, mistaking Ginny for Janis, takes deadly aim ... Suddenly, lightning crashes, thunder booms, and the house is plunged into darkness, causing Janis to scream again. This time, her cries bring the whole band a-running. Luckily, when the lights come on, no one is hurt but Kay does notice one of the deadly darts sticking in the wall near Ginny's ear. After everyone clears out, Kay corrals Chuck to show him the dart, but during the confusion it has mysteriously disappeared. (For the record: the last to leave the scene was Mainwaring.) Convinced that a killer is running loose in this nuthouse, Kay wants to call the concert off until Chuck tells him about Janis' dire situation. No problem, the cowardly Kay offers, they'll just take her with them when they leave. But as they start to round everyone up to go, the house is rocked by an explosion. When the din dies down, Mainwaring announces that a lightning strike has detonated the bridge(!), meaning everyone's indefinitely stuck. Coincidently, he typed ominously, the phone-lines have conked out as well.

Now, before the bridge went boom, half of the party guests had already arrived: about a dozen debutants, and with their beaus stuck on the other side of the river, Harry, Sully, and Ish try to substitute themselves to no avail. Since they're stuck anyway, Janis talks Kay into going on ahead with the show. And several catchy musical numbers later, the whole company adjourns to another room for cocktails. Here, Janis and Chuck let Kay in on their plan to expose Saliano. The only problem is their ace, Fenninger, is probably stuck on the other side of the demolished bridge. But just as they write him off, Fenninger (Peter Lorre) enters the room and introduces himself. He also apologizes to Janis; he was the one outside her window earlier, having arrived early, unannounced, to snoop the place out. After dinner is announced, Mainwaring and Fenninger linger behind as the others file into the dining room, and their duplicitous nature is exposed when Fenninger asks why the girl is still alive. But Mainwaring says not to worry; he has another plan for an untimely accident for poor Janis, they just need to get Saliano to hold another séance -- and an opportunity presents itself when Kay stumbles in, looking for his cigarette case, and Fenninger tricks him into challenging Saliano to prove that he isn't a faker. Saliano agrees to the challenge, but warns "To those who scoff, the spirits consider no punishment too drastic."

Setting up in the ballroom, Saliano's meditation tent is pitched in the center, and by each entrance, he places deadly electronic flytraps borrowed from The Thing from Another World, meaning anyone trying to enter or leave during the séance will be flash-fried to a crisp. Then, when the lights go down and the festivities commence, as Fenninger and Mainwaring lurk about, Saliano asks for volunteers to sit in a semi-circle and manages to herd Janis into the chair directly underneath the chandelier (-- so Saliano must be in on it, too.) After the Mystic enters his tent so he can go into his trance in private(!), what follows, actually, is a fairly effective and creepy sequence:

As the summoned poltergeist's activity turns from playful to sinister, a strange voice sounds off, announcing it's ethereal presence. Then a ghostly dismembered head of some tribesman appears in the darkness, chanting "I killed Bellacrest", over and over, and when this apparition disappears, it's replaced by the glowing head of Bellacrest himself. As the spirit implores Janis to believe in Saliano, totally entranced, the girl swoons and slips off the chair -- mere seconds before the chandelier falls and crushes it!

Having had enough excitement for one day, everyone decides to turn in. Since Chuck and Kay have to bunk together, being extremely cautious, they sealed the room before turning in. But when they turn out the lights, a ghostly flame appears -- closer, closer, and closer it comes until it leaps into bed with them, triggering pure pandemonium. They get the lights on only to discover it's just Ish's dog, Prince, whose tail is covered in phosphorus paint. Deducting out the secret passage that the dog used to get in their locked room, the duo investigates and manage to get attacked by a stuffed gorilla, stumble into even more secret passages, and then promptly get separated. Alone, Kay finds a hidden control room, and even without the glowing masks of the native and Bellacrest on a shelf, it doesn't take a rocket-scientist to figure out that this is Saliano's equipment. But you gotta remember who we're dealing with here...

However, sharper eyes will be rewarded with all kinds of secret toy surprises if you look really close at the menagerie of props on Saliano's shelves, where you can spot several stop-motion models left over from King Kong, including several creatures from the notorious lost Spider-pit sequence!

Kyser proves up to the task, though, and figures it out as he tinkers with the controls and realizes everything they saw earlier was remote controlled. He also finds some papers, but as he reads, Kay hears someone coming, stuffs the papers into his pajamas, and hides. Saliano enters just as his intercom buzzes. Ordered to somebody's room, when he leaves, Kyser sneaks out behind him. With the mystery almost solved, all he has to do is discover who Saliano was talking to.

Well, we already know, and when the three conspirators meet, realizing their time is running out, Mainwaring has one last idea to bump off Janis and make it look like an accident. But to do this, Saliano will have to hold yet another séance. The others are doubtful that they can do this without raising suspicions, but Mainwaring says not to worry because aunt Margo will be the one demanding it. With that cue, Saliano knows what to do and leaves. Tired of outwitting morons, Fenninger warns that if this doesn't work, he'll just use his gun and get it over with.

Entering his secret lair, Saliano flips a few switches and places two microphones near his throat that distorts his voice. Pumping this ghostly sound into Margo's bedroom, while pretending to be Elmer, he demands that Margo gather everyone together because he has something important to reveal to Janis. Soon after, everyone else is woken up and herded into the ballroom -- except for Janis and Ginny, whom Chuck and Kay want safely locked in their room. Relatively sure it's Saliano and Mainwaring behind the attacks, Kyser makes the mistake of taking Fenninger into confidence and reveals his plan to take them down. Tipped off, using another secret door, Mainwaring attempts to chop Janis' head off with a scimitar while she sleeps. Ish -- who was guarding them, wakes up in time to foil this, but the attack has the desired effect: Janis is out of the bedroom and will be present for the deadly séance. 

When everyone is present and accounted for, Kay kicks up some spooky mood music as Saliano enters his tent. In the dark, the bandleader manages to hand off the glowing baton to a decoy and sneaks off to the secret passage he used early to enter Saliano's lair. And as the séance commences, while everyone is transfixed on the ghostly head of Elmer Bellacrest, Fenninger quietly positions one of Saliano's deadly electronic devices behind Janis' chair -- and when he plugs the contraption back in, it will arc across to the one near the tent, frying Janis to a cinder. But down below, Kay manages to knock Saliano out and takes over the broadcast, warning everyone to get moving 'cuz there's a murderer in their midst. Pandemonium ensues, and Janis moves before the machines spark off. When Chuck hits the lights, revealing that Mainwaring is wearing the glowing mask, the dastardly judge pulls a gun and manages to duck away into another secret passage. Entering the control room, he starts duking it out with Kyser, and while the men fight, they trigger the equipment, causing all kinds of hell to break loose in the ballroom. Managing a lucky punch, Kay escapes up through the trapdoor and into Saliano's tent. Unfortunately, everyone mistakes him for the killer and tackles the tent en masse.

Waving his trademark glasses as white flag, after they untangle him, Kay reveals the motive behind it all by showing Janis the papers he found: a codicil to her father's will that states when she turns 21, she becomes the executor of her father's fortune. It seems Mainwaring, through Saliano, had been bilking money from Margo for a long time, and knew Janis would put a stop to that so she had to go. Fenninger, whose treachery still hasn't been discovered, offers to go and hold the criminals with his pistol until the authorities arrive. After he's gone, there's a knock on the window, and outside they find a battered and bruised figure, who claims to be the real Fenninger. Realizing they've been duped, the fake Fenninger, Mainwaring and Saliano return, with pistols drawn. Saliano also holds a bundle of dynamite (-- a similar batch took out the bridge to be sure). Fenninger announces they may have spoiled their plans, but the crooks will have the last laugh and get away by blowing up the house. And once the police get done sifting for bodies, they'll be long gone. With that, the fuse is lit, the dynamite is tossed, and the criminals escape -- locking everyone else in the ballroom. (Did I mention the windows are all barred?) A confused Prince grabs the dynamite, but Kay wrestles it out of his jaws and tosses it out the window. Still confused, the dog bounds after and retrieves it and starts to bring it back -- until spotting the fleeing criminals and chases after them instead. As Ish calls for him to drop the dynamite, Prince disappears into the bushes. After the inevitable explosion, Ish is inconsolable. But as Kay promises to build a shrine for the dog, they here Prince barking and look outside to see he's alive and kicking, and chewing on what's left of Saliano's turban.

And that about wraps up the movie, except for one final closing number, where Kay incorporates Saliano's equipment to "Give voice to the instruments." And then one more curtain call by Kay, but he's quickly disintegrated by Saliano's death-spheres before he can finish.

The End

I remember clearly tuning in to Conan O'Brien's debut on Late Night, but by the time it went to the first commercial break, right after he kissed his microphone for the fifth or sixth time, I switched away -- already having my fill of this mugging and mincing moron. It was, in my estimation, a fairly embarrassing performance and it soured me on him and the show for a real long time. Several years removed, I can honestly say, that now, I find Mr. O'Brien to be a pretty funny guy. I bring up this personal anecdote because during the opening number of You'll Find Out, Kyser and the collective heads of knuckle in the bandstand are an overtly-spastic assault on your senses. The music is honestly pretty good -- unless you loathe swing music, and if so, why are you watching this to begin with? -- but the out of control antics of the mincing and prancing Kyser may send some of you scrambling for your remote control. If you can resist that urge, the rest of the film plays out just fine (-- you've already survived the worst of it. C'mon, you sissies.) 

This movie takes a lot of heat, mostly from vintage horror movie fans, over the inclusion of these horror icons in all that corniness. And it is one big can of corn -- straight of the cob. But as Kyser would say, "Pop that corn, baby!" And if you give the film half a chance, Kyser and the gang visibly improve as the film progresses, and by the start of the third act, he had successfully ingratiated himself to me, which is a nice reward for sticking through that opening act. Of course, I'm a sucker for any kind of big old haunted house movies -- and the more secret passages the better -- no matter whose involved.

RKO Pictures scored a real coup landing Karloff, Lugosi and Lorre. Karloff was pretty much done with Frankenstein at this point. At the same time, Lorre's stock was on the rise. Mr. Moto was behind him, and a career of getting pushed around by Humphrey Bogart was right around the corner. Karloff is solid, as always, if not underused. And it does the heart good to see Lugosi at least a little healthier and not embarrass himself. Lugosi had a few more supporting bits for the majors, but was already a veteran of "Poverty Row". In fact, Saliano was very similar to the mystic Chandu that he twice played earlier for Monogram. But of the three, Lorre is the one who steals the show as he constantly gets the upper hand and the last word in with our bumbling hero. And would you believe -- according to a growing legend, these three were supposed to have a musical number together. It was supposed to be a derivative of Ish's "The Bad Humor Man" called something along the lines of "We're Three Bad Humored Men." Truth or bull-twaddle? Who knows, but when the legend is more entertaining than the truth, print the legend.

The film's producer, writer and director, David Butler, helmed one other Kyser picture, but then latched on to Bob Hope for several of his spy comedies in the '40s, and he also directed Hope and Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour's third "Road" picture, The Road to Morocco. Contributing writer James Kern would go on to work for Jack Benny, and wrote the oddity to end all oddities for his new boss, The Horn Blows at Midnight, where Benny was an Archangel sent down from heaven to blow his horn -- sounding the beginning of armageddon! (Jack, of course, loses the trumpet.)

It's amazing that -- for as popular as he was, Kyser and his band is all but forgotten today. When World War II broke out, Kyser lost several band members to the draft. But Kyser was also one of the first entertainers to perform for the troops, and was instrumental in setting up the Hollywood Canteen. And it was during a performing tour in the Pacific Theater that Kyser made the consciences decision that he wouldn't play for money anymore. He was financially set anyway, but seeing the sacrifice the soldiers were making tempered Kyser, and his patented style changed drastically, almost overnight. Personnel changes, and a tragic bus fire that consumed most of their arrangements, all contributed to Kyser's abrupt retirement from the public eye. And after marrying one of his singers, he retired back to North Carolina and devoted all his energies toward his faith as a Christian Scientist. Kyser passed away in 1985.

You'll Find Out is a nice time capsule of Kyser, his band, and his style of music. It was a different era and a different kind of sound but I think a good modern equivalent of this would be to look back at Burton's Batman and try not to wince during the Joker's Bat-Dance parade. Some people just can't get past that. Whatever. I just don't think the movie is all that bad. In fact, the more I think about You'll Find Out, the more and more I like it.

You’ll Find Out (1940) RKO-Radio Pictures / P: David Butler / D: David Butler / W: James V. Kern, David Butler / C: Frank Redman / E: Irene Morra / M:  Roy Webb, George Dunning, Johnny Mercer, / S: Kay Kyser, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Helen Parrish, Dennis O’Keefe, Ginny Simms

Originally Posted: 11/07/04 :: Rehashed 04/18/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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