Fat Man, The (1951)

Fat Man, The (1951)

“Why would anyone want to kill a nice person like the doctor?”

A portly private eye (J. Scott Smart) hired by a dental nurse (Jayne Meadows) to investigate the sudden murder of her boss (Ken Niles) soon learns that the survival of dental records from an ex-con (Rock Hudson) married to a cocktail waitress (Julie London) and friends with a clown (Emmett Till) may have something to do with the mystery.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Flashback Films
  • Murder Mystery
  • Rock Hudson Films
  • William Castle Films

Directed by William Castle and based on a radio series of the same name (created by Dashiell Hammett), this flashback-filled detective noir is primarily notable for an early co-starring presence by Hudson:

and for featuring the screen debut of world-famous clown Emmett Kelly (Ed Deets):

… who would co-star in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) the following year. Unfortunately, Smart isn’t all that distinctive as a private dick; the fact that he enjoys eating isn’t particularly relevant or interesting.

However, the film as a whole is well-produced, and is worth a look for fans of the genre and era.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Irving Glassberg’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look — and as a public domain title, it’s easy enough to find.


One thought on “Fat Man, The (1951)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see – and in agreement with the overall assessment – though it’s not a bad little film. It works well-enough as a brain-teasing mystery (with a slight dose of light comedy).

    It does needlessly falter a few times in very minor areas of logic but not when it comes to the main plot.

    It’s nicely acted (for what it is) and Castle’s direction is basic but effective, esp. as the film draws to a close.

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