At the end of each year, the extremely wealthy but odious Greene family gets together at the spooky old family castle to establish terms of a will, though they despise each other. This year... See full summary »
At the end of each year, the extremely wealthy but odious Greene family gets together at the spooky old family castle to establish terms of a will, though they despise each other. This year, they start being mysteriously murdered one by one, and the police use Philo Vance to examine the clues and suspects. Written by
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 »
1929's "The Greene Murder Case" was the second of three early talkie Paramounts starring William Powell as Philo Vance, coming six months after the first, "The Canary Murder Case," eight months before the third, "The Benson Murder Case." Storywise, it's perhaps the best of all three, while technically it's a huge improvement on its predecessor, the pacing agreeable, the acting more natural, and Powell again joined by District Attorney Markham (E. H. Calvert) and Sgt. Ernest Heath (Eugene Palette). Also returning as a different character is young Jean Arthur, in a far more substantial role than her cameo in "The Canary Murder Case." The Greene household, consisting of bedridden matriarch and four offspring, are beholden to the will of the late patriarch Tobias Greene, requiring everyone to remain under the same roof for 15 years before the estate can be divided evenly between them. One dark midnight, both Chester (Lowell Drew) and Ada (Jean Arthur) end up shot (Chester fatally), but the robbery motive piques the curiosity of Philo Vance, particularly as the two shots were fired minutes apart. Always intrigued by the psychological aspects of each case, Vance has his hands full under this roof, where Tobias kept an extensive library on the history of crime. He may wind up solving this one by having only one suspect left! Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Fredric March) is an assured scene stealer, but her doctor boyfriend is played by dull as dishwater Ullrich Haupt (hard to believe that two women would be interested in him). Powell is far more involved here, and his amusing rapport with Eugene Palette never goes over the top. Struggling in a role few actresses could credibly pull off, beautiful Jean Arthur was still an unknown quality at the time, but remained one of Powell's favorite leading ladies (later seen to best advantage in "The Ex-Mrs. Bradford").
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