Philo Vance
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Quotes for
Philo Vance (Character)
from The Canary Murder Case (1929)

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Calling Philo Vance (1940)
Philo Vance: You see, Markham, we have all of the parts of the puzzle, but none of them seems to fit.

Philo Vance: [Sniffing the aroma of the lipstick from the back of his hand] Gardenia, I should say. Definitely common. Do you know anything about lipstick, Ryan?
Ryan: [Taking offence] What do you think I am?
Philo Vance: Hmmm... I'll let you know.
Ryan: [Annoyed, as Vance is leaving] Okay, wise guy, you're not out of the woods yet!
Philo Vance: You're right, Ryan.

Avery: [Referring to Vance's secret mission] ... and you understand the American government must not enter into this.
Philo Vance: I know. If I'm caught, I shall be a man without a country.
Avery: More than that, Vance. Possibly also a man without a head!
Philo Vance: Hmmm, not an amusing thought, your excellency.

Philo Vance: [Approaching Grassi's table as he is eating] Signor Grassi?
Eduardo Grassi: [Looking up] Yes.
Philo Vance: The same Signor Grassi who distinguished himself in the Ethiopian campaign?
Eduardo Grassi: The same.
Philo Vance: I hope you'll pardon the intrusion. My name is Philo Vance.
Eduardo Grassi: Oh, uh, won't you join me? I've heard of you too.
Philo Vance: Have you also heard that Mr. Archer Coe, whose airplane designs you've tried to buy for your government has been murdered?
Eduardo Grassi: [Shocked] Murdered?
Ryan: Yes, stabbed in the back! And the dagger's been a favorite Latin weapon since Nero played with matches!

Ryan: [as they are entering the front doo] By the way, Philo, how was the weiner schnitzel over there?
Philo Vance: Hmmm, mostly bread and water!

Philo Vance: [Finding no knife hole in the robe Coe was apparently stabbed in] This complicates things a bit.
Ryan: Hunh?
Philo Vance: You still think it was suicide?
Ryan: It's clear he couldn't have slugged, shot, and stabbed himself... particularly in the back.


The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
Philo Vance: Say, Markham, I just heard about Arthur Coe.
Dist. Atty. Markham: Yes. Too bad he had to bump himself off like that.
Philo Vance: Hmm, that's why I called you. You sure that he did bump himself off?
Dist. Atty. Markham: Well, his butler tells us he's sitting in a locked room with a revolver in his hand and a bullet in his head. I don't know what else you'd call it.

Philo Vance: Well, if you knew Archer Coe, you would know that suicide would be almost a psychological impossibility for him.
Dist. Atty. Markham: Psychological, bosh! Now two and two make four, don't they?
Philo Vance: How do you know you have two and two?

Philo Vance: What do you think of the suicide theory now, Sergeant?
Detective Sgt. Heath: Well, it's slightly complicated since the man shot, slugged and stabbed himself - especially in the back.

Dist. Atty. Markham: Haven't you got any ideas, Vance?
Philo Vance: Markham, it's a maze of conflicting clues. Any one of seven people might have done it.
Detective Sgt. Heath: We couldn't convict seven people, Mr. Vance.
Philo Vance: You couldn't convict one with the evidence you've got.

Philo Vance: [Refering to the wounded Sir Thomas] Could the wound have been self-inflicted, doctor?
Dr. Doremus: I'm the city butcher, not a detective. Don't bother me with any murders after three tomorrow. I'm going to the World Series.

Detective Sgt. Heath: [after a frustrating develpment] Well, Mr. Vance, where are we now?
Philo Vance: I should say somewhere in the middle of the Gobi Desert.


The Garden Murder Case (1936)
Zalia Graem: Do you really believe that people kill themselves over love?
Philo Vance: I can easily understand it... under some circumstances.

Philo Vance: Ah, Doremus! How about a warm cup of embalming fluid?
Dr. Doremus: Never mind the levity.

Dr. Doremus: [to the butler who's showing him in] I don't need an usher to lead me to a corpse.
[to Markham and Vance]
Dr. Doremus: Evening, Mr. Markham. Evening, Mr. Vance.
Sergeant Ernest Heath: [sarcastically] What! No kiss for me, honey?
Dr. Doremus: Ah!
Philo Vance: [as Doremus takes a sandwich out of his bag] My dear doctor, what is that?
Dr. Doremus: My dinner.
District Attorney Markham: You're not going to eat in here?
Dr. Doremus: Why not? For fourteen years you've called me from my soup to look at some dissipated cadaver. From now on, I'll eat with some corpse.
Sergeant Ernest Heath: Don't forget, Doc, Christmas dinner at the morgue.
Dr. Doremus: [Deadpan] I hope to see you there.

Philo Vance: [to Zalia] Very few girls can cry and still look lovely.

Inspector Colby: [calling to Vance as he approaches] Hello, Vance!
Philo Vance: Hello, Inspector!
Inspector Colby: I thought I'd find you here.
Philo Vance: Where there's smoke, there's always Philo?
Inspector Colby: Something like that.


The Casino Murder Case (1935)
Philo Vance: [after smashing a garish statue of an angel] The man who destroys a monstrosity like this does more than a man who creates a masterpiece.

Philo Vance: Yes, we must discover the wrong direction in order to discover the right.

Lynn: Got a gum?
Philo Vance: No.
[He is searched anyway]
Lynn: Sit down.
[after Vance sits]
Lynn: Surprised?
Philo Vance: No, it's all in this letter to Markham.
[Vance starts to reach for the letter]
Lynn: Keep your hand down. I'll take that!
[He takes the letter]
Lynn: I'm gonna burn it before I drill yuh.
Philo Vance: Without seeing how near I came to guessing right. It's very short really. Read it.
Lynn: [Ordering] You read it! I'll let you live until you're finished.
Philo Vance: I wish it were longer. For the sake of brevity, I put it in synopsis form.


The Bishop Murder Case (1930)
Philo Vance: [T Heath] Sergeant, you're much too trusting for this deceitful world. If everything happened as easy as that, life would be very simple and very dull.

Philo Vance: [to Markham and Heath] You know, gentlemen, this is no ordinary case. We cannot proceed in an ordinary manner. Mark my words, this is not a single murder that we are trying to solve. It is the beginning of a series of murders... ghastly and inhuman!

Philo Vance: My dear Miss Dillard, our problem is to match normal thinking against the abnormal scheming of a criminal mind.


The Canary Murder Case (1929)
Charles Spottswoode: What happened backstage? Were you able to see the Canary.
Philo Vance: No luck Charles. She's about as hard to get out of that judging room, as she is in that swing.

Charles Spottswoode: Shall we go over here?
Philo Vance: Why, yes. I'm afraid marriage is quite out of the question Miss O'Dell.
Charles Spottswoode: Oh, you're sure about that, are you?
Philo Vance: I'm positive.
Charles Spottswoode: Well how would you like me to tell the world about Jimmy's embezzling from your bank?
Philo Vance: What?
Charles Spottswoode: You heard me.


The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939)
Philo Vance: The question is, then, why would the killer have brought the body here?
Gracie Allen: Well, they've got a wonderful floor show.