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  • First some background - this was Lionel Atwill's final film. He shot half a serial "Lost City of the Jungle" after this and then passed away. This was Lugosi's final studio film other than "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". This was also, I believe, their 7th teaming together. Usually red herrings, or one good and one evil, this is the only real film they did together when they were both the bad guys from beginning to end (also Ghost of Frankenstein).

    That all being said, this is really a comedy from a weak team of comics Brown and Carney. The comedy is not terrible and is on par with the lesser Abbott and Costellos from the period. The best part is watching Atwill play the master criminal, "The Cobra", with Lugosi as his dedicated sidekick, Stone.

    It was really great to see the both of them ham it up. They have some great moments toying with the comics, Atwill in particular jawing one of them on to shoot through his robe to embellish the accolades for catching him. Lugosi gets to be just as menacing throwing knives and chloroforming the nosy female lead, and well, being Lugosi.

    It's a fun little flick that's definitely worth the 61 minutes for any fans of either Atwill and Lugosi. Being a fan of both, it was great to see them work together for the bad of mankind, which is what they always did best.
  • I wasn't really sure if watching another Wally Brown/Alan Carney vehicle so soon after ZOMBIES ON Broadway (1945) was a good idea, but this comedy-thriller actually works better than expected: there are a handful of genuinely funny one-liners and the chief villain (Lionel Atwill) utilizes a couple of clever ruses to escape detention when cornered - though his posing as an old lady in a wheelchair with a bearded Bela Lugosi (here relegated to the supporting role of Atwill's all-purpose henchman) in tow is a genuine camp moment; just as unflattering is the sight of Lugosi donning a bowler hat, not to mention his being on the receiving end in a couple of pratfall situations (I would also contend the absurdity of giving such a heavily-accented actor American names for his characters, in this case Stone, though this didn't happen often!).

    The narrative incorporates several well-worn elements from contemporary horror films and thrillers: a mysterious and seemingly invincible criminal mastermind, radio detective heroes, a renowned criminologist brought in to assist the investigation, a wax museum, torture/execution devices - and, for the climax, even reserves a few perilous stunts on the ledge of a building a' la the films of Harold Lloyd! As was the case with ZOMBIES ON Broadway, the film utilizes cast and crew members who also worked on the contemporaneous Val Lewton cycle of classic horror films - cinematographer Robert De Grasse had served in the same capacity on THE BODY SNATCHER (1945; also featuring Lugosi), while Marc Cramer had co-starred in ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945). In the end, I'd say that the film marginally edges ZOMBIES - even the Brown/Carney team seems to be more at ease with the material and, consequently, comes off as more sympathetic here.
  • This script seems like it was written for Abbott and Costello, but turned down. We have a low-rent comedy team here pretending to know something about a murderer. We also have menacing performances by Atwill and Lugosi. Finally, we have Anne Jeffrys as the lovely lady. It is funny in parts, but never really menacing. If you're not expecting much, it might be a pleasant surprise. If you do expect a decent film, well, you might very well be disappointed. It's a harmless enough way to spend an hour or so, especially if you're a Lugosi fan. I'm not sure it's for everybody, though. It isn't dull, but it isn't exactly entertaining, either.
  • Jealous of the success of Abbott and Costello at Universal Studios, RKO decided to create their own version of the team in the form of Carney and Brown. While the duo didn't bear much physical similarity to the other team, the writing for their films often seemed identical to those who wrote for Abbott and Costello.

    This film is rather reminiscent of the Abbott and Costello film WHO DONE IT? Both are about the duo working on a radio detective show and they actually get tangled up in a REAL crime--which they then solve on the air. However, since WHO DONE IT? came out four years earlier and featured the original comedy team, you are left wondering "why not just watch the original?". The bottom line is that this is a very competently written rip-off of the other film.

    Along with Carney and Brown, the film stars Anne Jeffreys and Bela Lugosi (who both starred with the team in ZOMBIES ON Broadway) as well as Lionel Atwill. Atwill comes off pretty good as the main villain, but Lugosi fans will no doubt be disappointed that Bela is given a subordinate and rather dull role in the film.
  • A remake of 1937's "Super-Sleuth," "Genius at Work" splits the Jack Oakie role in half for RKO's comedy team Wally Brown and Alan Carney, in their eighth and final film together. Back from title six, "Zombies on Broadway," are pretty Anne Jeffreys and Bela Lugosi, here reduced to playing Stone, the assistant/partner in crime of noted criminologist Latimer Marsh (Lionel Atwill), quickly revealed to be master criminal The Cobra. Brown and Carney again play their signature characters, Jerry Miles and Mike Strager, radio detectives keeping audiences tuned in by reenacting The Cobra's crimes (RKO newcomer Robert Clarke can be glimpsed as a fellow radio announcer). Pity any investigator who can't figure things out while browsing through Marsh's latest book, "Murder and Torture Can Be Fun!" Nowhere near as obnoxious as other lesser duos, Brown and Carney were both experienced comedy veterans, bland yet watchable. Atwill and Lugosi are virtually the entire show, hugely enjoying themselves as they avoid detection one way or another. The climax finds both in disguise, with Atwill's wheelchair-bound old lady a real hoot (his customary twinkle belying his real life demons). What is sad is watching the dying Atwill, stricken with bronchial cancer, smoking incessantly throughout the film, giving his all with a brave effort, with only "House of Dracula" and the 13 chapter serial "Lost City of the Jungle" still ahead of him (completed Aug 1945, this picture sat on the shelf for more than a year). This was the last of seven titles that teamed Atwill and Lugosi: "Mark of the Vampire," "Son of Frankenstein," "The Gorilla," "The Ghost of Frankenstein," "Night Monster," and "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A lot of people are comparing the little-known today comedy team of Wally Brown and Alan Carney with the much more famous Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and I can see the resemblance, though one crucial difference is that their relationship is never physically abusive; their put-downs to each other are frequent but strictly verbal. Brown and Carney may not be comedic geniuses, but they are quite funny in their own right. And they are surrounded by a strong supporting cast: Anne Jeffreys is a smarter-than-average female sidekick, while Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi make a great villainous team (I wish the identity of "The Cobra" hadn't been revealed so early, though). These two wisely play it straight - even when Atwill disguises himself as an old lady in a wheelchair! ** out of 4.
  • The story moves at a good pace with a beautiful leading lady, and comedians a plenty. They have the type of comedy that cannot be found anymore today. It is clean fun and good for the whole family.
  • Genius at Work (1946)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Wally Brown and Alan Carney play radio show detectives who get caught up in the real murder case of a killer known as The Cobra (Lionel Atwill). The comedy duo Brown and Carney were RKO's rip of Abbott and Costello but I actually enjoyed their earlier film Zombies on Broadway. This one here isn't as good but there's some nice laughs and the supporting of Atwill really helps things. Bela Lugosi has a small, thankless role as Atwill's sidekick. The biggest highlight is seeing Lugosi playing an old man to his wife, Atwill in drag. Atwill' final film.
  • In a remake of Jack Oakie's "Super Sleuth", the alleged comedy team of Wally Brown and Alan Carney play radio actors Jerry and Mike who are re-creating the crimes of a killer who calls himself "The Cobra". The Cobra's true identity is the famed criminologist, Marsh (Lionel Atwill),who kills for the fun of it. Marsh and his assistant, Stone (Bela Lugosi).attempt to kill the two saps and frame their boss and head-writer, Ellen (Anne Jefferys). Brown and Carney are simply awful and fortunately this is the last movie they would make together. Unfortunately this was also Lionel Atwill's last movie, too. Atwill is always worth watching, but Lugosi is really wasted here and the plot's so familiar you can almost hear the lines before they're spoken. The only challenge is staying awake for 61 minutes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The main attraction in this slight comedy is Lionel Atwill as maniacal criminologist Latimer Marsh who resorts to murder and Bela Lugosi as his sinister assistant with the last name of Stone. Wally Brown and Alan Carney play two producers named Jerry Miles and Mike Strager who collaborate with their writer Ellen Trent (Anne Jeffreys). Jerry and Mike are two incredibly dumb radio broadcasters who become real detectives, and drive police lieutenant Rick Campbell (Marc Cramer) up the wall. One of the uncredited cast members is Robert Clarke (THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON) who had been under contract with RKO at the time. Bela Lugosi had also starred with Wally Brown and Alan Carney in ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY (1945); RKO tried to turn Brown and Carney into their own answer to Abbott and Costello. There's a climatic scene of Jerry Miles hanging onto a flagpole on the side of the office building and Mike Strager hollering "Jerry, speak to me", kind of like Bud trying to check on Lou. Loads of fun for one and all.
  • This poor excuse for a movie really ought to be ashamed of itself. The two comedians in the principal roles are about as funny as a ruptured spleen, and Atwill and Lugosi probably scared each other more than they scared the intrepid audiences who dared sit through this film. RKO sets a new low for itself. It's released some pretty shabby B-flix during its time, but this one stands out because it brings all of the trappings of a cheap, hastily done celluloid nightmare that you might expect from one of the poverty row studios...PRC, Tiffany, name it. "The Cobra" has struck again, leaving its murderous imprint upon the already burdened psyche of the city. The two "radio detectives" have a show that re-constructs what they call 'the crime of the week'. But the ne'er do well heroes along with Anne Jeffreys do so well that they step on the toes of the villains and they do not like it. It then becomes a matter of having to get rid of them because they feel it is only a matter of time before their villainy will be discovered along with their true identities. It was a ridiculous, tired plot...even then in the 40s. It may have been a good vehicle for better actors...but that is not the case here. It is so bad..nothing can save it. I have read...this is remake of a Jack Oakie vehicle from the 30s, this is one time when RKO should have just let sleeping dogs lie...and this film is really a DOG ! I cannot and do not recommend it. Even though I love old flix, this one is a time waster.
  • bkoganbing10 April 2020
    Wally Brown and Alan Carney aren't real detectives, they just play detectives on their radio show. But sometimes they venture into true crime. And on one program they razz the police about their failure to capture The Cobra a Jack the Ripper type fiend who operates at will.

    Even famed criminologist Lionel Atwill can't help. But since he is The Cobra that's understandable. Brown and Carney are guests at the Atwill estate and if those torture devices in his basement didn't give them a clue I don't know what would have.

    Genius At Work takes from both Abbott&Costello features Who Done I and Hold That Ghost. Bud&Lou did it a whole lot better. Still Genius At Work has some funny moments. The best being when they are trying out the devices in Atwill' horror chamber.

    Bela Lugosi is also in the film as Atwill's butler and sidekick fiend. I wish Lugosi had been the criminal mastermind though.

    Brown&Carney were a pair of character players that RKO teamed to create their own Bud and Lou. After a few films Brown and Carney went back to their individual careers.

    No recreating the magic that was Bud and Lou.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'll give Alan Carney and Wally Brown credit for one thing; they are more amusing than Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo, the Martin and Lewis wanna-bee's of "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla". That is not saying much, but at least for a few years, they were under contract to RKO and starred in a series of forgettable B comedies. This is their last, and they get above the title billing supported by Lugosi and fellow horror movie veteran Lionel Atwill. A lovely young actress named Anne Jeffreys is also featured, and she's a private detective who works with Brown and Carney to try to catch a notorious kidnapper/murderer, only known as "the Cobra".

    The funny bits come ironically from the two boogie men. Atwill and Lugosi make being evil a humorous pairing, and the idea of Brown and Carney outwitting them is preposterous. That leaves the future Marian Kirby of the" Topper" TV series to be the brains. A few funny visual gags come because of the serious way that Atwill and Lugosi play their parts. Lugosi gets laugh for simply being an unseen echo, reminding the audience of a talent beyond urbane villainy. More laughs also come from the statues made for the film as set pieces, upstaging the stars. The film goes into overdrive in the last five minutes with a Harold Lloyd like finale that does bring on some genuine suspense and thrills. Carney and Brown couldn't even be considered a second rate Olsen and Johnson but are surrounded by pro's who manage to hold the film together from becoming a total disaster.
  • In this awful crime comedy from RKO and director Leslie Goodwins, radio stars Jerry (Wally Brown) and Mike (Alan Carney) have made a name for themselves by broadcasting details about a series of kidnappings and murders that even the police don't know. Their secret is that famed criminologist Latimer Marsh (Lionel Atwill) is helping Jerry & Mike's scriptwriter Ellen (Anne Jeffreys) compose the scripts. While Jerry, Mike, and Ellen all believe that Marsh is deducing these details thanks to his vast knowledge and experience, the reality is that he's the actual killer, aided by his valet Stone (Bela Lugosi).

    RKO made several films with Brown & Carney in an attempt to create a comedy duo to compete with Abbott & Costello. Needless to say, it didn't work, and this film proved to be their last as a screen team. They're not funny, and often drag down any scenes that focus on them, which is most of the movie. On the other hand, Atwill and Lugosi are amusing as the villainous Marsh & Stone. If only they'd been the main characters. Sadly, this would be Atwill's final film role. He died from pneumonia in April of '46. He really deserved better than this for his film farewell.
  • Mike and Jerry star in a radio drama, but then they run into real criminals. Wally Brown, Alan Carney, and Anne Jeffreys produce a detective show at Spartan Broadcasting, and of course they are caught up in the real crime drama. somehow they have insulted both the crooks and the police, so they'd better watch out! You can't help but recognize Bela Lugosi by sight and by voice. it's all kind of silly and amateur-ish. plot-holes. Lionel Atwill is the Cobra... Atwill had started in the silent films, but this would be his last completed film, as he died after this. The studios had started filming another project, but Atwill died of pneumonia during production. some interesting notes in his personal life, as described on wikipedia dot org... hollywood shunned him after parts of his personal life came to light. and he was married to Douglas MacArthur's ex-wife for a time! all that is probably more interesting than the plot of this film. it's ok. a quick little caper. Directed by Les Goodwins, who was probably most famous for directing Lupe Velez in the Mexican Spitfire films.
  • GENIUS AT WORK (RKO Radio, 1946) directed by Leslie Goodwins, marked the final screen teaming of Wally Brown and Alan Carney. Having worked together in a series of minor comedies since 1943, usually assuming the same character names of Mike Strager and Jerry Miles, Brown and Carney became the studio's replacement to its 1930s team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, but more to the level of RKO's answer to Universal's ever popular twosome of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Virtually forgotten both by name and film titles, GENIUS AT WORK is solid 62 minute mystery/comedy set in a radio station. Though this edition contains many similarities to Abbott and Costello's similar theme of WHO DONE IT (1942), it is actually an updated remake to RKO's very own edition of SUPER SLEUTH (1937) featuring Jack Oakie. As much as the routines for GENIUS AT WORK are a grand mix from good to forced comedy, it benefits greatly by the fine support of horror movie greats of Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi in the cast.

    The story begins with business tycoon, John J. Saunders (Forbes Murray) being abducted by a shadowy figure. Next comes the introduction of Mike Strager (Wally Brown) and Jerry Miles (Alan Carney) as a couple of half-wits working for a radio station where they play master mind detectives in the popular "Crime of the Week" series. Their latest caper involves a killer known as The Cobra, whose series of murders have been baffling the police. Lammer Marsh (Lionel Atwill), a criminologist to the series, supplies information to Ellen Brent (Anne Jeffreys), the script girl. The radio program results to climax of its victims before it actually happens. With Saunders found murdered, police inspectors, Lieutenant Rick Campbell (Marc Cramer) and his assistant, Warren Gilly (Ralph Dunn) arrive to investigate as to where Ellen has been getting her information. Upon visiting the Marsh estate that includes his butler, Stone (Bela Lugosi), Jerry, Mike and Ellen encounter Marsh's hobby room consisting of wax-like figures and torture devises. With Marsh suspecting Ellen may be closing in on his identity being The Cobra, he intends on making her the prime suspect as well as putting her two assistants out of the way permanently.

    Though GENIUS AT WORK is categorized by some to be the weakest of the Brown and Carney comedies, somehow I recall this being overplayed on New York CIty's own WOR, Channel 9, through much of the 1970s, especially in 1974 with four to five broadcasts alone. Anne Jeffreys and Marc Cramer make favorable secondary couple between comedy highlights including Bela Lugosi scaring Miles through sinister voicing through the intercom; Lionel Atwill disguised as a wheelchair bound old woman; and chase through the radio station leading to window ledge and rooftop reminiscent to Abbott and Costello's funnier WHO DONE IT. With Wally Brown's description of his partner (Carney) being so dumb, "He couldn't find a loaf of bread in a bakery," there are many moments where he proves his theory correct with another quip, "If he had another brain, he'd have one," Interestingly, Brown and Carney, assuming the same character names of Strager and Miles in the horror spoof, ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY (1945), had Bela Lugosi and Anne Jeffries in support, each bearing different character names.

    For those who prefer non-stop comedy, GENIUS AT WORK is it. For anyone feeling GENIUS AT WORK should have been the tower of comic strength, maybe a genius at work might remedied that. Overall, this is as good as it gets. Formerly shown on American Movie Classics prior to 2001, GENIUS AT WORK, available on DVD, can be seen on Turner Classic Movies cable channel more for seeing Atwill and Lugosi in comedy than as a rediscovery to the forgotten comedy team of Brown and Carney. (**1/2)
  • I love classic comedies. I saw this on TCM. I really wish these guys had a longer contract run. IMO they were very funny to-gether. I know they were brought to-gether in response to Abbott and Costello. I think they were great. This is my favorite film of their catalog.
  • I don't know how anyone thought a comedy team as pathetic as "Brown and Carney" could be filmworthy, yet there are at least two features with them. Niether has an interesting personality, or even seems able to generate an individual personality. I guess since the fatter one,Carney, has a rubbery face, he's the "dumb" one, and Brown offers low speed rambling explainations, he's the "smart" one, but not so much as you'd notice if you weren't desperately trying to get something out of them. They aren't supposed to be hard-luck types like all other teams are, or should be, to get the comedy started, because they somehow have a successful network radio show, and they're taken seriously, more or less, by authority types, as well as their girl co-writer. It's a waste of much better actors Bela lugosi and (in his swan song) Lionel Atwill. I guess when you're down to this, your best years have passed by. The plot's murderer mystery, where the city is terrorized by mastermind supervillian "The Cobra" is less than suspenseful, all is pretty routinely handled, and at no time, from the "Cobra's" secret den of horrors, or the excitement-killing back projection window ledge and roof scenes, does anything like real tension appear, it's all safe, and dull. This should have been a short, maybe. The less of it would be an improvement.
  • Better than i thought. Better than i expected. Some mildly funny lines plus seeing Atwill i n drag and Lugosi in disguise move this movie up a notch. This was my first Brown & Carney movie and while they borrow similar bits from A&C they d are not close to as polished; there a friendlier version of Bud and LOU. OF course there's only ONE Abbott&Costello.