Review: The Corpse Came C.O.D.
Originally released June 12, 1947
Most of the time, The Corpse Came C.O.D. looks like something from its release year of 1947, with art direction and cinematography like any number of other late 40s mystery tales. The well-done stunt work (fistfights between star George Brent and various criminal characters) is comparable to late 40s movies, and of course, we're looking at 1947 cars, clothing, and furniture on the screen. But, the plot and characters seem more like the action from a 30s film, with people creeping around in the dark of a big house, dark figures looming up from behind to almost grab our other star, Joan Blondell, stuff that was old-fashioned by 1937, let alone 1947.
This hybrid mystery/comedy features Brent and Blondell, but oddly, Blondell doesn't even appear for 20 minutes after the film starts. These two made other films together (for example Miss Pinkertson, 1932, which bares some resemblence to this newer film) and they effortlessly snap their dialogue back and forth like the veteran film stars they are, but in places there's a lag in the editing that doesn't match their pace, it's as if a snarky 1932 film is trying to break out from within a slower 1947 murder-mystery.
Despite this list of complaints which mostly has to do with the writing and speed of the tale when Blondell or Brent aren't in front of us, The Corpse Came C.O.D. has its own charm. We may see deep shadow scenes like a proper noir film (a genre preparing to go into its prime in '47), but this film is the antithesis of noir with a happy attitude that seem to always be on the verge of bursting into high gear despite the bodies accumulating. The two competing newspaper reporters (George and Joan) try to figure out what's going on and how it connects to a Hollywood actress (Adele Jergens) with a fear for scandal. Jergens is featured prominently on the poster materials for the film, but this is really a Joan Blondell / George Brent film.
From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association
Original page April 2021