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You Never Can Tell

You Never Can Tell title card

Year - 1951
Studio - Universal International
Stars - Dick Powell, Peggy Dow, Joyce Holden, Charles Drake
Director - Lou Breslow
Writing Credits - Lou Breslow, David Chandler
Music - Hans J. Salter


When an eccentric millionaire dies, he leaves his six million dollar fortune to his faithful German Shepherd dog, King. His secretary, Ellen Hathaway (Peggy Dow), is named as the dog's caretaker, and she stands to inherit the money upon King's death. She is visited by Perry Collins (Charles Drake), who claims to have been King's trainer when they served together in a K-9 unit in the Army. He proves it when the dog obeys his simple commands, although King does not seem to be fond of Collins. Ellen, however, is very interested in Perry, who tells he he wants to ask her an important question when he returns from a business trip.

You Can Never Tell poster

After Perry leaves, King is found outside, dead from poisoning. Ellen is regarded as the main suspect by the public, because she has a strong motive.

King's soul finds itself in an animal purgatory, called the "Beastatory", where all animals pause before going to the "great beyond." He makes a request that he be allowed to return to earth to find the person who poisoned him. King Koab, a ghostly lion, grants King's request, allowing him to return as a "humanimal."

Back on Earth, King is now "Rex Shepard", Private Eye (Dick Powell). He is assisted by another humanimal, Golden Harvest or "Goldie" (Joyce Holden), who had been a racehorse. Although Rex appears fully human, he retains some dog qualities, such as munching on dog kibble and growling when angered. They visit Ellen, who is puzzled by the detective's knowledge of the facts of the case, but she accepts his offer to find the killer. She announces to them that she is engaged to marry Perry Collins. Rex is convinced that Collins is his killer, and that he is marrying Ellen for her money. Collins had abused him in the military, and even faked an accident to cover up the evidence of his abuse.

Rex remembers that his killer tossed an empty bottle after giving him poisoned meat, and he finds that bottle on the grounds of the estate. He presents that evidence to Ellen, but Collins reports it to the authorities, who arrest Rex on suspicion of being the killer. He is released, but the police plant a microphone in his office. Rex and Goldie's conversations, however, convince them that the pair are crazy.

Rex discovers a Boxer dog, Max, that had been with them in the military, and he steals it from the kennel and takes it to Ellen. The Boxer reacts with hostility to Collins, and Rex tries to explain how Collins had abused all of the K-9 dogs under him. The Boxer's owner arrives, who just happened to have been Collins' commanding officer, Major Smith, and he confirms Rex's story, adding that he had demoted Collins out of his command. Cornered with the evidence, Collins runs away.

As Rex and Goldie prepare to return to their great beyond, she mentions that Ellen is "one of us", having previously been a dog, part Shepherd. As Goldie ascends to the heavens, Rex returns to be with Ellen.

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You Never Can Tell was suggested for this site by Maria Goodavage. Her website will suggest why this film is of special interest to Maria.