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Murder at the Vanities (1934)

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A homicide detective with an eye for the ladies investigating a murder in Earl Carroll's Vanities allows the music review to continue during the investigation.



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Complete credited cast:
Bill Murdock
Jack Oakie ...
Jack Ellery
Ann Ware
Dorothy Stickney ...
Norma Watson
Gertrude Michael ...
Rita Ross
Jessie Ralph ...
Mrs. Helene Smith
Homer Boothby (as Charles B. Middleton)
Gail Patrick ...
Sadie Evans
Dr. Saunders
Toby Wing ...
Himself (as Duke Ellington's Orchestra)


Shortly before the curtain goes up the first time at the latest performance of Earl Carroll's Vanities, someone is attempting to injure the leading lady Ann Ware, who wants to marry leading man Eric Lander. Stage manager in charge Jack Ellery calls in his friend, policeman Bill Murdock, to help him investigate. Bill thinks Jack if offering to let him see the show from an unusual view point, after he forgot to get him tickets for the performance, but then they find the corpse of a murdered women. Bill suspects Eric of the crime, especially, after the second female lead Rita Ross told him she saw the women leaving from Eric's room. Then Rita is shot onstage with Eric's gun. Jack and Bill decide not to stop the show, but Bill preparing to arrest Eric. Is he on the right track ? Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

18 May 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Broadwayn mysterio  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According the Kitty Carlisle in the documentary Complicated Women (2003), when the "Sweet Marijuana" number was being filmed, she had no idea what marijuana was. She thought it was a Mexican musical instrument. See more »


A door to a dressing room is slammed, shattering a good portion of the mirror attached to the door. A moment later, when the door is opened, the breakage has changed so that part of the mirror is restored. See more »


Police Lt. Bill Murdock: [Ogling a showgirl] Now there's a baby over there looks suspicious and ought to be followed.
Jack Ellery: Hmm! Don't get to close to her. She'll mistake you for King Kong.
See more »


References King Kong (1933) See more »


Ebony Rhapsody
by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow
Sung by Carl Brisson, Kitty Carlisle and Gertrude Michael
See more »

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User Reviews

No one EVER Made Movies Like This One!!!
24 November 2005 | by (Shediac River, New Brunswick) – See all my reviews

There are moments in the film that are so dreadful, your teeth ache. But knowing that there were only weeks left before the Code made movies innocuous and bland, Paramount rushed this into production before innuendo and leering went out of style. Vanities is so horrifically anti-female that it's delicious. As Kitty Carlisle sings, women are displayed with price tags that would insult a Bronx hooker. They emerge from clams (nudge,nudge;wink,wink) in postures of absolute submission. Minions of the law, so stupid they cannot find the door, get to look up their skirts and snicker. Bare-breasted chorus girls sit uncomfortably in giant cacti (Could they be a source of hallucinogens, perhaps?) while we listen to "Sweet Marijuana" and watch as blood falls on a chorines's breast.

Sure, Carl Brisson learned his lines phonetically and doesn't seem to have a clue what he is saying. But it's all worth it as Norma steals the show while no one is looking.

Taking one moment of this fragile fluff seriously is missing the point of the whole exercise. Watch this with a charter member of NOW and prepare to justify the whole Hollywood machismo sch tick between body blows.

Toby Wing, by the way, is the icing on the cake. And Duke Ellington doesn't hurt either.

A must stroll down Memory Lane.

16 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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