Every long horror marathon needs a comedy to lighten the mood a little. So it’s time for something a little different that might not be to everyone’s liking. In 1940, fans were treated to the first and only screen pairing of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre. However, you also had musical numbers from bandleader Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Mix the horror legends in with a musical legend along with some murder and mystery and you get You’ll Find Out (1940).
You’ll Find Out is set up as an old dark house murder mystery with a little humor and music thrown in for good measure. The movie begins with a sampling of Kay Kyser’s radio program, a mix of music, comedy and quiz show. The band is hired to perform at Janis Bellacrest’s birthday party, which is arranged by their manager Chuck Deems (Dennis O’Keefe, Brewster’s Millions), who also happens to be dating Janis (Helen Parrish). Janis’s Aunt Margo (Alma Kruger) has become interested in contacting the spirit of her dead husband Elmer. Enter the mysterious Prince Saliano (wonderfully played by Bela Lugosi), the highly suspicious Judge Spencer Mainwaring (Boris Karloff in all his evil eye glory) and Peter Lorre doing what he does best in the role of Professor Karl Fenninger, a psychic expert who may expose Saliano as a fraud. With a raging thunderstorm outside, a bridge that is “struck” by lightning and murderous activities hiding in every dark shadow, is everyone going to make it through the party alive?
Kay Kyser would receive top billing in You’ll Find Out and rightfully so as it’s really his movie. His other bandmates, Kay starred in 12 movies between 1939 and 1945. Besides You’ll Find out, he also starred alongside Robert Armstrong (King Kong) in My Favorite Spy (1942). Peter Lorre had second billing while Lugosi’s falling status had already pushed him down to fifth. Karloff received last billing as “And Boris Karloff”, equal to a top billing or special status. And sharp eyes may recognize actor Jeff Corey (Star Trek, Beneath the Planet of the Apes) in his film debut as the male contestant at the beginning of the movie.
You’ll Find Out was very successful at the box office and even includes an Academy Award nominated song in “I’d Know You Anywhere” and the odd tune “The Bad Humor Man.” The coolest gimmick is the musical Sonovox. Two speakers are placed against the upper throat and as you mouth the words, the speakers provide the voice.
Personally, I enjoyed the cheesy 40s humor and I love the music from this era, so I didn’t mind the musical interludes. However, if you are looking for a straight up horror movie, you probably need to move along. But if love classic movies from the 30s and 40s, I encourage you to try You’ll Find Out as I think many of you will enjoy it. Don’t watch the trailer before the movie as it only presents the movie as a musical while downplaying all of the murder mystery aspects. It’s available on the Karloff & Lugosi: Horror Classics DVD box set.