When the Grim Reaper whispers in movie director Eric Olmstead’s ear, barely covered by his Sinbad turban, at studio head Warren Lockwood’s Halloween costume party, Olmstead faints, then rouses himself to go home and commit suicide, leaving behind a note to his estranged wife Dinah, the bimbo star of several of Lockwood’s major 1939 productions. Unable to believe that Olmstead took his own life, Dinah asks her old pal Groucho Marx and his writing partner Frank Denby (Groucho Marx and the Broadway Murders, 2001, etc.) to snoop around. In between attacks of uncontrollable puns, they discover that Olmstead was a reluctant sleeper agent for the Fatherland; that top-secret defense plans have been pilfered from Lockwood’s other venture, an aerospace plant; that an arcane code can be deciphered by studying the dictionary, the only volume keeping all the Westerns company in Olmstead’s library; that Olmstead’s butler has burgled his safe, decamped to Catalina Island, and been killed there; and that FBI agents Goodrich and Lewis don’t want Groucho’s autograph, even though the patrons of Moonbaum’s Delicatessen clamor for it. Many, many puns later, the spies and murderers are routed, leaving Frank to cuddle with his pregnant wife while Groucho settles into his regular booth at Moonbaum’s.
If not quite the ne plus ultra of goofiness, darn close.