The murders start with the body of Robin. He is found with a arrow through the heart, but Vance deduces that the body was placed and not found where he was killed. The note found dealing with the murder was part of a nursery rhyme and signed by 'Bishop'. The only witness may have been Mrs. Drukker and Adolph, but they are not talking. As the murders progress, each one is accompanied by a nursery rhyme. It is up to Philo Vance to unravel the clues and unmask the identity of the murderer 'Bishop'. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Several times Roland Young's character sarcastically calls Basil Rathbone's investigator character "Sherlock Holmes". Nine years later Rathbone would take the role of Holmes and it became his iconic role. See more »
Zelda Sears is credited on-screen as playing "Mrs. Otto Drukker," but throughout the film she is called Miss Drucker and is referred to as the sister of Adolph Drukker, with no other Drukker in evidence (in particular, there is no Otto). This does, however, duplicate the name given in the "Cast of Characters" of the original book by S. S. Van Dine. (Although, in the book, she is listed as Adolph Drukker's mother.) See more »
You must put Robin out of your head, cruel and unnecessary as his death seems. Life is cruel, but what can we crawling microbes do about it? Not that you aren't a very charming microbe.
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I found all of the Philo Vance films watchable, with the zippy and witty Kennel head and shoulders above the rest. Bishop was pretty good too but suffered from a cast of actors stuck in the silent era and displaying the full range of intensely melodramatic emotions that are were so essential to the making of and enjoyment of watching a silent film. Static cameras are as nothing to tortured eyes and semaphore arm histrionics.
Mr. (Cock) Robin is found flat out murdered, apparently shot with an incredibly long arrow but Vance played by skinny and incisive Basil Rathbone knows better. He predicts a series of ghastly and inhuman murders will follow conceived by a intellect bent on playing games with his pursuers by couching his dastardly deeds in very handy nursery rhymes. He and one of the suspects, evergreen Roland Young are the only two to act naturally throughout, if still very slightly stagey. The photography is occasionally startlingly good, if still static. None of these criticisms bother me, I love it just the same as a well crafted atmospheric entertaining potboiler. Favourite bits: The scene in Dillard's library with the thunderstorm raging outside; the sedate and well-mannered way Vance and the cops enter Dillard's aerodrome of a house to search for the murderer.
I hadn't seen this since 1995, the last time UK Channel 4 gave anyone interested their opportunity to watch it. TCM UK unlike TCM US will never have room for it in their admirably varied schedule either (hem). But it's worth hunting down with all its faults for 90 minutes in the company of the world of 1929.
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