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William K. Howard,
A beautiful showgirl, name "the Canary" is a scheming nightclub singer. Blackmailing is her game and with that she ends up dead. But who killed "the Canary". All the suspects knew and were used by her and everyone had a motive to see her dead. The only witness to the crime has also been 'rubbed out'. Only one man, the keen, fascinating, debonair detective Philo Vance, would be able to figure out who is the killer. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the earliest of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. See more »
In "The Greene Murder Case" (about 29 minutes in) someone mentions reading about "The Canary Murder Case". But, in "The Canary Murder Case" (about 21 minutes in) someone mentions that he hasn't seen Vance since "The Greene Murder Case". The studio may not have been sure which order the movies would be released when the dialog was written. See more »
This film is today memorable only for those interested in the struggles the studios went through during the conversion to sound, and those interested in the fortunes of two of Hollywood's most fascinating characters, William Powell, and Louise Brooks.
Powell is cast as Philo Vance and plays him in a straight, deadpan manner. It's interesting because he has almost none of the charm and sophistication that he would bring just a few years later to the Nick Charles character that would become such a major hit.
On the other hand, this is the film that sunk the Hollywood career of Louise Brooks. She had just completed the silent version of this film when her Paramount contract came up for renewal. She was owned a $250 bump in salary, which would have boosted her all the way to $1,000 a week. But B.P. Schulberg refused to honor the deal, saying he didn't know how she would record. Of course, Brooks walked out on the film, went to Europe and made film history, although it would be 30 years before anyone realized it. But eventually, the restored version of "Pandora's Box" would turn her into a screen legend and perhaps, the greatest femme fatale in movie history. But the film pretty much flopped at the time, mostly because it was carved up by the censors.
Meanwhile, Paramount decided to do some reshoots to get some sound into "Canary", but could not lure Brooks back to Hollywood for love or money. So Margaret Livingston was brought in and dubbed Brooks' voice, unfortunately using a Brooklyn accent that sounded nothing at all like Brooks. (For a real example of her voice, check out "Windy Riley Goes Hollywood," a terrible 1929 short that was actually directed by Fatty Arbuckle under an assumed name. She has a low, sexy voice, despite Paramount's contention that she "didn't record." It's now available on DVD as added material for Brooks' other German triumph, "Diary of a Lost Girl," directed by G.W.Pabst.)
At any rate, Canary is slow moving and dull to the extreme. After Brooks' character is knocked off, the film goes straight downhill and is almost impossible to watch. But the first part is fascinating, if only because Brooks is so damned beautiful that she takes your breath away.
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