Midnight Menace (1946)

Midnight Menace is a 24-minute all-black musical showcase for Lollypop Jones, who apparently was a vaudeville singer and dancer back in the ’40s. Unfortunately for us, he wasn’t an actor. Jones stars as himself, a performer who shows up for a gig and goes to his dressing room (he balks when he finds out that it’s room #13), not realizing that the previous occupant, Sam the Voodoo Man, left his wife’s body in there. She’s not dead, mind you; he just decided to dump her by putting her in a catatonic state and leaving her lying on the floor. Of course, it never crosses Lollypop’s mind to call the cops or an ambulance, much less check her pulse. “I never thought I’d put a woman out of my room,” he says to the body, “But sister, you are going! You will never be found in my room!”

“Comedy” ensues as Lollypop dumps the body in various locations, only to have the voodoo spell compel the woman to walk back to room 13. At one point, the stage manager, Joe, stops by the room, and Lollypop has to get rid of him while concealing the body. He tells Joe, “You gotta go. I gotta write a letter to my girl.”

“But you can’t write!” exclaims Joe.

“That’s alright. My girl can’t read!” Ba-dum-dum.

In the hands of someone with a comedic gift like Mantan Moreland, these unfunny lines might’ve been moderately entertaining, but Lollypop not an actor, much less a comedian. (Granted, his over-the-top reactions are hilarious for all the wrong reasons.) Much better is his singing, which he showcases in a blues song entitled “Don’t You Sell My Monkey,” which should’ve been called “Double Entendre Blues”.

The applause from Lollypop’s performance jolts the woman out of her voodoo spell, and she’s so thankful that she proclaims, “You’re my hero! I’m yours!” and throws herself at him. Lollypop, for some reason (Gay? Impotent?), exclaims, “No, I ain’t!” and goes running off. The woman chases him around the building for a few minutes, and he gets rid of her by pushing her down a laundry chute!!! Who says chivalry is dead?

The Amy Winehouse concert ended as expected.
“My hands!”
“Just takin’ my corpse-shaped garbage out to the dump. Nothing to see here.”
Joe was finally able to afford that Kleenex box he always wanted.

What do you think?