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Penguin Pool Murder (1932)

Passed  -  Comedy | Drama | Mystery  -  9 December 1932 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 555 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 7 critic

Shady stockbroker and abusive husband Gerald Parker is found dead in the penguin pool of a NYC aquarium after being knocked cold by his wife's boyfriend.



(screen play), (from the novel by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Penguin Pool Murder (1932)

Penguin Pool Murder (1932) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Complete credited cast:
Edna May Oliver ...
Robert Armstrong ...
Barry Costello
Gwen Parker
Donald Cook ...
Philip Seymour
Edgar Kennedy ...
Clarence Wilson ...
Hemingway (as Clarence H. Wilson)
James Donlan ...
Gustav von Seyffertitz ...
Von Donnen (as Gustav Von Seyffertitz)
William Le Maire ...
MacDonald (as William LeMaire)
Joe Hermano ...
Chicago Lew
Guy Usher ...
Rochelle Hudson ...
Telephone Operator
Wilfrid North ...


The body of unscrupulous stockbroker Gerald Parker suddenly appears in the penguin tank at the aquarium. Naturally, suspicion falls on his wife and her boyfriend, who were present. Inspector Piper investigates with the unsolicited aid of teacher Hildegard Withers, a witness who's taken an interest in the case; Piper develops a grudging respect for Miss Withers' acumen (and sharp tongue), as they search among the red herrings for the aquarium killer... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

9 December 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Penguin Pool Murder  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The New York Aquarium, where the Penguin Pool Murder is set, was originally located on the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park from 1896 until it was closed in 1941. It has been located in Coney Island since 1957. See more »


The boom's shadow appears on a column behind Edna Mae Oliver when Miss Withers is looking through the aquarium at night. See more »


Isadore - Student with Glasses: [In the aquarium] What you doin' hangin' around this fish house?
Oscar Piper: Well, it's Friday, isn't it?
Isadore - Student with Glasses: It isn't Friday for wisecracks!
See more »


Followed by Forty Naughty Girls (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining mystery boosted by Oliver and Gleason chemistry
25 February 2001 | by (Murray Hill, NJ) – See all my reviews

In the 1930s, RKO produced a series of mysteries concerning the detective activities of schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers. Viewing the first film, THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER, one can understand why the series immediately took off. The mystery itself is well constructed and engrossing. Director George Archainbaud's presentation of the murder victim's discovery is imaginative. In an aquarium, a boy discovers a penguin acting strangely, as if encountering an intruder. The penguin's behavior is immediately explained when a corpse suddenly plunges into the tank! The scenario, based on a Stuart Palmer novel, features some intriguing red herrings with plausible motives for the murder. By the time the killer is revealed, it is fairly obvious who the culprit is, but the mystery is resolved in a clever and credible manner.

THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER is especially worthwhile due to its spirited lead performances. As Withers, Edna May Oliver is drolly acerbic, tartly disdaining the police's ineffectual work as she proceeds to solve the case. As Police Inspector Oscar Piper, James Gleason blusters amusingly, determined to find the killer without Withers' help. Oliver and Gleason truly sparkle in their relationship. Initially, they're cagey of each other but an underlying mutual affection quickly develops. Piper and Withers continue to argue about the case throughout the picture but in an amiable manner that precludes the possibility of mutual ill will. Even if the mystery becomes too familiar to be suspenseful upon repeated viewings, THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER can still be savored due to Oliver and Gleason's marvelous chemistry.

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