Tippecanoe "Tip" O'Neil
Created by James Edward Grant (1905-1966)

"The whole things a cock-eyed maze."
-- Tip's pal, Lilly, gives us the scoop.

Free-wheeling, wise-cracking, world-renowned private eye TIPPECANOE "TIP" O'NEIL (who shares a name with a future American Speaker of the House) is hired to investigate a dog shooting, but soon finds himself tangled up in a kidnapping and murder plot involving various members of a rather screwy family, in the 1936 Charles Vidor-directed B-flick Muss 'em Up, a tricky but satisfying blend of comedy and hardboiledness.

The title stems from an actual remark made by the actual New York Police Commissioner at the time, Lewis J. Valentine on how his police officers should handle criminal types reluctant to talk. Tip continually mentions he can get (and has gotten) information he wants by using a rubber hose filled with buckshot on reluctant criminals. The police inspector in the film pans that idea.

Still, Tip proves to be a dogged and determined sleuth. Numerous red herrings and unexpected comic touches, such as Paul Porcasi's portrayal of a mobster big shot or a magic trick that even stumps the magician, plus deft direction by Vidor, make this film one worth looking for.

Meanwhile, the book the film was based on, James Edward Grant's The Green Shadow (1935), is considered to be some sort of alternative classic. It seems Tip thinks of himself as a bit of a wit, and promptly delivers a steady stream of one-liners we supposed to find amusing. At one point, he phones the police to report a couple of suspicious yeggs, alternately identifying himself as Senator Wafflepoop, Philo Vance, Bishop Cannon and Huey Long.

Grant was a prizefighter, a boxinf manager, a syndicated newspaper columnist and a screenwriter, whose credits include Miracles for Sale (1939, MGM).

NOVEL

FILM


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