IMDb > The Bishop Murder Case (1930)
The Bishop Murder Case
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The Bishop Murder Case (1930) More at IMDbPro »


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Up 25% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
S.S. Van Dine (from the book by)
Lenore J. Coffee (adaptation)
View company contact information for The Bishop Murder Case on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 January 1930 (USA) See more »
The finest of all S. S. Van Dine's murder mystery an all-talking picture! (original poster) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A very satisfying Philo Vance entry though a little creaky in spots See more (19 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Basil Rathbone ... Philo Vance

Leila Hyams ... Belle Dillard

Roland Young ... 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 ... Ernest Heath
Sidney Bracey ... Pyne (as Sydney Bracey)

Clarence Geldart ... John F.-X. Markham
Delmer Daves ... Raymond Sperling
Nellie Bly Baker ... Beedle
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Cramer ... Detective in Park (uncredited)
Frank Fanning ... Officer Manning (uncredited)
Marcia Mae Jones ... Hungry Child in Park (uncredited)
Broderick O'Farrell ... Dr. Van Pelt (uncredited)
Douglas Scott ... Child with Book in Park (uncredited)

Directed by
David Burton (stage direction by)
Nick Grinde (screen direction by) (as Nick Grindé)
Writing credits
S.S. Van Dine (from the book by)

Lenore J. Coffee (adaptation, scenario and dialogue by)

Original Music by
William Axt (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Roy F. Overbaugh (photographed by) (as Roy Overbaugh)
Film Editing by
William LeVanway (film editor)
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
Sound Department
Donald MacKenzie .... recording director (as Dr. Donald Mac Kenzie)
Frank McKenzie .... sound (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Henrietta Frazer .... wardrobe by
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
88 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric System)
USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

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 »
Continuity: When the camera follows Carroll Nye to the left side of the rock in the park where he is murdered, there is obviously a cut before his head falls into camera range as the shadows change.See more »
Ernest Heath:[to Sperling, who is unresponsive] Well, young fella, you thought you'd get away, did yuh? Oh, you're one of those silent lads, are you? Say, we'll have you talkin' so much that lockjaw will look like a case of St. Vitus dance!See more »
Movie Connections:
Aloha OeSee more »


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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A very satisfying Philo Vance entry though a little creaky in spots, 30 August 2005
Author: krorie from Van Buren, Arkansas

"The Bishop Murder Case" is one of the best in the Philo Vance film series. The mystery seems a bit silly at first when children's nursery rhymes are used by the perpetrator of the crimes to publicize his murders, not unlike methods used by present-day serial killers. But once the plot unfolds the nursery rhyme angle makes complete sense. The Bishop is a key figure in solving the mystery as the title indicates. So keep your eyes focused on that clue. I won't say any more except to add that this is a complex mystery.

Basil Rathbone is second only to William Powell in breathing life into S.S. Van Dine's famous private investigator. It's obvious from this performance why Rathbone was chosen at the end of the decade to play Sherlock Holmes. The other actor who shines in this movie is Roland Young. Though much of the acting hearkens back to the silent era which was coming to an end, Rathbone and Young seem modern in their approach. From playing on stage and in silent pictures, actors were used to wild exaggerations and outlandish gesticulations which were no longer needed now that movies could talk. Several of the characters in "The Bishop Murder Case" have not yet adjusted to working with sound. Not so Rathbone and Young.

Another early talky distraction for modern viewers is the absence of music for dramatic effect. Since live music was used to accentuate the silent screen action and mood, it seems strange that music was not immediately utilized for the same purposes on the talky screen. Producers were misinformed that music coming from nowhere would puzzle and confuse the audience. So it took a few years for Hollywood to rid itself of this misconception. The decision not to use music plus fairly primitive sound effects (the viewer will readily recognize the sound of thunder as the sound of huge sheets of metal being snapped)take away from the overall effects of this otherwise clever and well-written murder mystery.

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