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 »
The Greene Murder Case was William Powell's second of four ventures in the role of society detective Philo Vance. In this film, he's called in as a whole family named Greene, rich society folks like Vance himself keeps getting knocked off one at a time. As Eugene Palette as Sergeant Heath says, they'd have to be crazy to keep committing the crimes while Vance and he are actually in the house investigating. Insanity is a key element in The Greene Murder Case.
The house itself holds a few clues as to the identity. And it plays a part in the crimes as they unfold because as we learn right at the beginning of the film, the terms of the late Mr. Greene has that the whole family has to live together, if not happily under the same roof for fifteen years before they can inherit. Only in these old murder mysteries do they come up with wills like that.
The Greene family is an interesting lot in and of themselves. Mother Gertrude Norman is bedridden, but keeps a tyrannical reign over her kids who consist of flapper Florence Eldridge, doormat Jean Arthur, and a pair of worthless trust fund baby sons in Morgan Farley and Lowell Drew.
The Greene Murder Case is probably the weakest of the four William Powell Philo Vance cases. It relies on some really way out solutions for Powell to identify the culprit. And if you're any kind of fan of these films you will know about a third of the way through who the murderer was. Let's say the culprit has what looks to be an airtight alibi for all the murders, especially the second of the three.
Powell of course is as debonair and smooth as always. As I did in seeing The Canary and Benson Murder Cases, I do marvel at the way Powell was able to immediately adapt almost by instinct to the requirements of talking pictures. Definitely a film if you are a fan of his.
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