Genius at Work is a 1945 American comedy crime thriller feature film directed by Leslie Goodwins (Murder in the Blue Room; The Mummy’s Curse) from a screenplay by Monte Brice and Robert E. Kent (Zombies on Broadway; Diary of a Madman; Twice-Told Tales).
Jerry (Wally Brown) and Mike (Alan Carney) present an”unsolved mysteries” series on the radio. The show’s head writer Ellen (Anne Jeffreys), receives script advice from criminologist Lionel Marsh (Lionel Atwill).
However, Marsh is actually The Cobra, a wily murderer who kills his victims merely for the thrill. When the radio sleuths and Ellen call upon Marsh at home, the villain and his servant Stone (Bela Lugosi) attempt to dispose of them via deadly old-dark-house gadgets…
“This was smoothie villain Atwill’s final film before his sudden death and marked the end of the Brown-Carney duo. Lugosi fulfilled his three-picture deal with RKO by taking the mindless role of Stone, the Cobra’s right-hand man. Modestly funny at times, but mostly not.” TV Guide
“The movie is a remake of The Nitwits (1935), one of Wheeler & Woolsey’s better comedies, which in turn influenced Abbott & Costello’s similar Who Done It? (1942), one of their best films, which in turn influenced this, which isn’t one-third as good as either of those.” Stuart Galbraith IV, DVD Talk
“After this dismal effort, a comedown even after Zombies on Broadway (1945), RKO gave uptrying to promote Brown and Carney as a rival comedy team to Abbott and Costello … Atwill, in his last film, is his usual competent self, but Lugosi languishes dismally on the sidelines as his butler.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“Rickety vehicle for a comedy team which never even approached Abbott and Costello.” Leslie Halliwell, Halliwell’s Film Guide
“Brown & Carney’s last film as Abbott & Costello-like team is pretty weak; Lugosi is wasted.” Leonard Maltin
Cast and characters:
- Wally Brown as Jerry Miles
- Alan Carney as Mike Strager
- Anne Jeffreys as Ellen Brent
- Lionel Atwill as Latimer Marsh / The Cobra
- Bela Lugosi as Stone
- Marc Cramer as Lt. Rick Campbell
- Ralph Dunn as Lt. Gilley
- Jimmy Jordan as Pageboy
- Phil Warren as Jennings
- Peter Potter as Announcer
- Wallace Jackson as Detective
Genius at Work was filmed in August 1945 and belatedly released by RKO Pictures on October 20, 1946.
On shelves in the background of The Cobra’s workroom, a stop-motion model Triceratops built for King Kong (1933) and a cave bear armature used in The Son of Kong can be seen.