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The Bishop Murder Case (1930)

Passed  -  Drama | Mystery  -  3 January 1930 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 346 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 5 critic

When the body of a man nicknamed "Cock Robin" is found with an arrow in the heart on an archery range along with a chess bishop as a clue, Philo Vance investigates.


, (as Nick Grindé)


(from the book by), (adaptation)
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Title: The Bishop Murder Case (1930)

The Bishop Murder Case (1930) on IMDb 6/10

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Complete credited cast:
Belle Dillard
Sigurd Arnesson
Alec B. Francis ...
Professor Bertrand Dillard
George F. Marion ...
Adolph Drukker
Zelda Sears ...
Mrs. Otto Drukker
Bodil Rosing ...
Grete Menzel
Carroll Nye ...
John E. Sprigg
Charles Quatermaine ...
John Pardee (as Charles Quartermaine)
James Donlan ...
Sidney Bracey ...
Pyne (as Sydney Bracey)
Delmer Daves ...
Raymond Sperling
Nellie Bly Baker ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ALL-TALKING!...ALL-THRILLS! (original poster) See more »


Drama | Mystery


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 January 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bishop Murder Case  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


When Vance and fellow detectives investigate the body of Robin, who has been shot with an arrow, the angle of the arrow changes. Sometimes it's straight up out of the body, other times it's at almost a 45 degree angle. See more »


Sigurd Arnesson: [to Belle] 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.
See more »


Follows The Canary Murder Case (1929) See more »


Waltz in A Minor, Op.34, No.2 ('Waltz Brilliante')
(1831-39) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Played on piano by Basil Rathbone
See more »

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User Reviews

Nursery Rhymes, Chess, and Archery
25 November 2006 | by (NC) – See all my reviews

S. S. Van Dine's socialite detective is brought to film for the third time - this time having Basil Rathbone play Philo Vance. While I will not argue with some of the critical assertions that the film is static, stationary, and decidedly creaky, not too mention very far-fetched and predictable, The Bishop Murder Case was made in 1930 when sound was just coming into its own. That is very evident in this film as much of the dialog is hard to hear and comprehend. The stationary microphone was used throughout with director Nick Grinde using lots of expansive scenes with the actors standing around the screened microphone as was the case for sound pictures then. That being said, the film is a pretty decent detective mystery for its time. Rathbone makes an affable Vance. His character is given little depth, however. The mystery, while not entirely and sufficiently explained to me has some things going for it with red herrings involving chess pieces, archery, Ibsen plays, and murders emulating nursery rhymes of a kind. While Grinde directs with the limitations at hand, I did like some of his wide shots. The balcony of the building scene when the professor discovers a man killed by an arrow looked quite impressive, and you can see some wide shots that most definitely mirror German film expressionism of the 1920s with some large, long windows shot in the backdrops of several scenes. All the actors are competent with some real nice character turns by the likes of Charles Quartermaine as a chess expert, George F. Marion as a hunchbacked pseudo-intellectual, James Donlan as a police sergeant(giving the film some of its much needed light moments), and Roland Young, Cosmo Topper himself, turning in a sly, witty performance as a possible suspect. The script is unfortunately riddled with too much ambiguity to make any real sense, but when all is said and done, The Bishop Murder case is mildly entertaining - again making consideration for the time it was made.

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