The comedy duo of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey re-teamed with director George (Kentucky Kernels) Stevens for this comedy.
A music publisher is targeted for blackmail and murder by a mysterious criminal known only as “The Black Widow”. Wheeler and Woolsey are two knuckleheads that work in the publisher’s building and when he makes a pass at Wheeler’s best gal (a young Betty Grable), Wheeler knocks his lights out. Afterwards, The Black Widow murders the publisher, leaving Wheeler as the prime suspect. Grable takes the wrap for him and goes to jail, but Woolsey invents a makeshift lie detector to uncover the killer’s identity.
The film isn’t up to the team’s usual standards but it has some laughs if you’re an indiscriminate fan of the team. There’s a pretty funny running gag where Woolsey keeps running into a British guy carrying tennis supplies, sending balls and rackets flying everywhere, as well as a humorous bit where the team tries to serenade Grable from outside the prison.
The best part is extended chase ending where The Black Widow dresses up as a scary looking skeleton to frighten the boys. Had the killer dressed like this for all of the film and not just the final reel, The Nitwits could have been a memorable horror/comedy in the tradition of Hold That Ghost. As it is, it’s just a passable time waster filled with consistent chuckles but no big belly laughs.