St. Benny the Dip

St. Benny the Dip ★★★★

Director Edgar G Ulmer takes a break from his noir, western and horror fare and brings us a high spirited comedy with a lighthearted cast. While it doesn't break the mold story wise (thieves with a heart of gold) - it does bring great writing, fun pacing and a finely tuned cast with perfect comedic chemistry.

We follow the plights of three jolly con men: Benny (played by Dick Haymes), Monk (Lionel Stander) and Matthew ( Topper himself - Roland Young in a scene stealing performance). After setting up a political figure in order to blackmail him - they are busted by the local coppers and take to the road. They make their way to basement of a local clergy where they disguise themselves as religious clerics in order to escape. However they are discovered hiding in a flop house - but quickly turn the tables on the cops by convincing them that they are there to reconstruct a former mission for the homeless population to bring them the word of the scripture. This creates a situation where they become suddenly popular and respected in the community- leading them to go for a long con to raise funds for the mission so they can abscond with it - but will their consciences get in their way?

While a little late in the game for traditional screwball comedy (1951) - it still has a lot of laughs and fun "screwball" situations for the three leads to hurdle through. The character Benny is given the romantic interest which in my opinon takes away from the fun - but that is quickly forgiven by the performance of Roland Young as the elderly of the three con-men who begins to take his role as a minister and humanitarian seriously - to the detriment of the plan. Lots of fun and lots of laughs - this is a must see for classic comedy fans!

Check it out!