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...
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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 »
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 »
...and how far his film persona has traveled since 1928's Forgotten Faces! In the silent era, Powell had played a heavy. But that distinguished sounding voice may not have been what the audience expected, but it was what they wanted once they heard it. So parts arrived for him that matched that distinguished voice.
This film opens with the dysfunctional Greene family going over the terms of the late Mr. Greene's will that says the family must live in the estate for 15 years before anything more than living expenses is awarded to any of the heirs. All share equally, and if any die or decide to live somewhere else, their share is distributed to the others. They are 10 years into the 15 years, so New Year's Eve 1934 gives them all their money and their freedom. And none of them likes the other. Mrs. Tobias Greene is bedridden because she cannot walk. Ada (Jean Arthur) dotes on her, and Ada is always being taunted by Sibella Greene (Florence Eldridge) as an outsider since she is adopted. Sibella has some secret between herself and her mother's doctor.
Then, one by one the members of the Green family begin turning up dead. The police call in Philo Vance to help, and lest the audience think it strange that a civilian is helping in police matters, several references are made to "The Canary Murder Case" in which Vance solved the crime. Vance keeps emphasizing that these things usually boil down to psychology, and that is his focus throughout the film - the psychology of the members of the Greene family, both the dead and the living. Did I mention that the servants share some in the will too and there are some very strange household servants? Eugene Palette plays Sgt. Ernest Heath of the police, and does the most interfacing with Vance. Paramount paired Powell and Palette quite a bit in the early years of sound and their contrast seemed to be very synergistic, both of them with trademark voices of a very different kind from one another.
I'll let you watch and see how this all turns out. There are quite a few surprises in the plot. I'd recommend it.
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