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The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Philo Vance, accompanied by his prize-losing Scottish terrier, investigates the locked-room murder of a prominent and much-hated collector whose broken Chinese vase provides an important clue.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Raymond Wrede - the Secretary
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Frank Conroy ...
Etienne Girardot ...
James Lee ...
Liang - the Cook
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Sir Thomas MacDonald (as Paul Cavanaugh)
Arthur Hohl ...
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Eduardo Grassi (as Jack LaRue)
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Storyline

Archer Coe has been found dead in his locked bedroom. The cops consider it suicide, but Philo believes otherwise. When the Coroner shows up, he finds that Archer had been hit with a blunt object, stabbed and shot - making suicide unlikely. When the evidence points to his brother, Brisbane is found stabbed to death in the closet. Archer had a number of enemies, any one of which would have been glad to knock him off, but which one did and how did the murder occur in a room looked from the inside. Only one man, the keen, fascinating, debonair detective Philo Vance, would be able to figure out who is the killer. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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GREATEST OF ALL THE PHILO VANCE MYSTERIES! See more »

Genres:

Mystery

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Release Date:

28 October 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Il pugnale cinese  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Powell's last appearance as Philo Vance. See more »

Goofs

The police break down the door to get to the body in the study. The next day Philo demonstrates how the door was locked from the outside after the murder, but the door showed no signs of being broken and it is unrealistic to expect it to be fixed so quickly. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Doremus: I'm a doctor, not a magician.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Philo Vance's Secret Mission (1947) See more »

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User Reviews

75 Years Young and Wearing Beautifully
4 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the 1920s and 1930s Philo Vance became a household name with publication of the wildly popular S.S. Van Dine (alias for Willard Huntington Wright) novels featuring the patrician amateur detective.

Though Kennel is one of the better Philo Vance novels, this adaptation of the eponymous book represents the rare case where a film is better than the original story (which would not film well if precisely represented on screen because of (1) the psychological issues which would be hard to depict, and (2) the novel's culminating violent scene, which the film modifies).

The genius in taking one of the lesser of the canonical Philo Vance novels and making it into a classic is, of course, Michael Curtiz's direction; Curtiz being an exceptionally talented director who has, perhaps, the misfortune of being eclipsed by the fame of his films (e.g., Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and The Adventures of Robin Hood) because of lack of a distinctive style.

This film is also a successful example of an early talkie: the sound is fairly good except in some scenes where the boom is obviously too far away, and in one shot (between Robert Barrat and Helen Vinson) we actually see the microphone! Some of the actors are clearly still making the silent-to-sound transition, but the performances are uniformly good. The key scene stealer is Etienne Giradot, who plays the Coroner, Dr. Doremus. Indeed, his performance is so endearing he reprised the role in other Philo Vance films.

While it becomes fairly easy to guess the culprit, the film doesn't suffer for this because of the excellent direction, good sets and wardrobe (check out Mary Astor's chic outfits!), and fine performances. (Though primarily loved for his work as Nick Charles in the Thin Man films, William Powell gives one of the best (and most subtle) performances of his career in Kennel.) Besides its status as a Hollywood classic, Kennel is an outstanding example of successful story adaptation and early sound film-making. (One can also see some noir hints later fulfilled in Curtiz's Mildred Pierce.) Highly recommended.


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