For, Oct. 25, 2013

OK, see if you can imagine this being pitched to Universal Pictures in 1951: Hey, boss, I gotta great idea for a comedy: A police dog inherits $6 million when a cracker tycoon dies, so someone poisons the mutt. But whodunit? When the pooch reaches heaven, he conveys his suspicons and gets a chance to solve the crime by returning to Earth as a human detective. We'll call him, uh, Rex Shepherd!

Weird, right? But it gets weirder. Instead of being fired, veteran screenwriter Lou Breslow not only got the green light to write the script with collaborator David Chandler, but Breslow was also allowed to direct for the first time. And a big 1950s star was tapped for the lead role, Dick Powell.

Only in Hollywood.

But the weirdest part of all is that it worked. And it still works. "You Never Can Tell" holds up wonderfully as a funny, imaginative fantasy that the entire family will enjoy. Rex and his sidekick Goldie (Joyce Holden), who used to be a racehorse, are on the case, and the gags fly fast and furious.

This is, as my wife would say, a good ol' black and white movie, and it's highly entertaining.

"You Never Can Tell" is on the Universal Vault Series manufacture-on-demand label, available online at Amazon, ClassicFlix and other sites.