IMDb > Murder at the Vanities (1934)

Murder at the Vanities (1934) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

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Director:
Writers:
Carey Wilson (screenplay) and
Joseph Gollomb (screenplay) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Murder at the Vanities on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 May 1934 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
NewsDesk:
(3 articles)
Pre-Code Hollywood 2: Music, Comedy, Action and Adventure
 (From CinemaNerdz. 31 January 2014, 7:40 AM, PST)

The curse of the musical interlude
 (From Shadowlocked. 20 December 2010, 2:33 AM, PST)

Broadway Star Kitty Carlisle Hart Dead at 96
 (From WENN. 19 April 2007)

User Reviews:
Mystery at the Musical Theater See more (25 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Carl Brisson ... Eric Lander

Victor McLaglen ... Bill Murdock
Jack Oakie ... Jack Ellery

Kitty Carlisle ... Ann Ware
Dorothy Stickney ... Norma Watson
Gertrude Michael ... Rita Ross
Jessie Ralph ... Mrs. Helene Smith

Charles Middleton ... Homer Boothby (as Charles B. Middleton)
Gail Patrick ... Sadie Evans

Donald Meek ... Dr. Saunders
Toby Wing ... Nancy

Duke Ellington ... Himself (as Duke Ellington's Orchestra)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ernestine Anderson ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Lona Andre ... Lona - Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
William Arnold ... Treasurer (uncredited)

Lucille Ball ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Lucille Battle ... Black Dancer in Ebony Rhapsody number (uncredited)
Betty Bethune ... Fat Charwoman (uncredited)
Stanley Blystone ... Policeman (uncredited)
Mildred Boyd ... Black Dancer in Duke Ellington's Ebony Rhapsody (uncredited)
Marion Callahan ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Nancy Caswell ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Juanita Clay ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Roy Crane ... Assistant Stage Manager (uncredited)
Helen Curtis ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Virginia Davis ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Dorothy Dawes ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Mike Donovan ... Police Sergeant (uncredited)
Winnie Flint ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Barbara Fritchie ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Nora Gale ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Zumetta Garnett ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Gwenllian Gill ... Gwen - Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Mary Gordon ... Assistant Wardrobe Woman (uncredited)
Mildred Gover ... Pearl (uncredited)
Hal Greene ... Call Boy (uncredited)
Gladys Henderson ... Black Dancer in Duke Ellington's Ebony Rhapsody (uncredited)
Cleo Herndon ... Black Dancer in Duke Ellington's Ebony Rhapsody (uncredited)
Ruth Hilliard ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Otto Hoffman ... Walsh (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... Chorus Boy (uncredited)
Inez Howard ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Billie Huber ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Diane Hunter ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Constance Jordan ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Evelyn Kelly ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
The King's Men ... Lovely One Quartet (uncredited)
Patsy King ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)

Alan Ladd ... Chorus Boy (uncredited)
Iris Lancaster ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Mitchell Leisen ... Orchestra Leader (uncredited)
Charles McAvoy ... Ben (uncredited)
Howard M. Mitchell ... Detective (uncredited)
Leda Nicova ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Dave O'Brien ... Chorus Boy (uncredited)
Dennis O'Keefe ... Chorus Boy (uncredited)
Ted Oliver ... Murdock's Chauffeur (uncredited)
Wanda Perry ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Esther Pressman ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Arthur Rankin ... Assistant Treasurer (uncredited)
Rita Rober ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Ruth Scott ... Black Dancer in Duke Ellington's Ebony Rhapsody (uncredited)

Ann Sheridan ... Lou - Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Laurie Shevlin ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Teru Shimada ... Koto (uncredited)
Gwynne Shipman ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Carolynne Snowden ... Black Dancer in Duke Ellington's Ebony Rhapsody (uncredited)
Frank Sully ... Chorus Boy (uncredited)
Colin Tapley ... Stage Manager (uncredited)
Anya Taranda ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Beryl Wallace ... Beryl - Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Cecil Weston ... Miss Bernstein (uncredited)
Dorothy White ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)
Gladys Young ... Earl Carroll Girl (uncredited)

Directed by
Mitchell Leisen 
 
Writing credits
Carey Wilson (screenplay) and
Joseph Gollomb (screenplay)

Earl Carroll (based upon the play by) and
Rufus King (based upon the play by)

Sam Hellman (dialogue)

Jack Cunningham  uncredited

Produced by
E. Lloyd Sheldon .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Howard Jackson (uncredited)
William E. Lynch (uncredited)
Milan Roder (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Leo Tover 
 
Film Editing by
William Shea (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Hans Dreier (uncredited)
Ernst Fegté (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Earl S. Hayman .... sound recordist (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Rudolph G. Kopp .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Larry Ceballos .... dance numbers
LeRoy Prinz .... dance numbers
Mrs. Tom Rooney .... chaperone (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
89 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.See more »
Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: When the body of the woman on the catwalk is turned on her back, you can see the actress' chest rise and fall as she takes a breath.See more »
Quotes:
[last lines]
Jack Ellery:Nancy, what shall I do?
Nancy:Oh, Mr. Ellery!
Jack Ellery:C'mon, let's do it.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in End of Days (1999)See more »
Soundtrack:
Where Do They Come From (and Where Do They Go)?See more »

FAQ

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
Mystery at the Musical Theater, 14 March 2009
Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida

Earl Carroll's MURDER AT THE VANITIES (Paramount, 1934), directed by Mitchell Leisen, from the stage work by Earl Carroll and Rufus King, marked the studio's contribution to the stage musical of the precode era. Almost in the league as Warner Brothers' WONDER BAR (1934), with plot set in a single night revolving around an handful of sinful characters, VANITIES contains its own assortment of odd characters, great interplay between Jack Oakie and Victor McLaglen, risqué dialog and semi-nude chorines listed in the opening credits as "The Most Beautiful Girls in the World," makes this particular production something to consider.

Producer Earl Carroll is ill and unable to attend the opening night of his Vanities, which leaves Jack Ellery (Jack Oakie), former reporter turned stage director, in charge. Eric Lander (Carl Brisson) and Anne Ward (Kitty Carlisle), the show's leading couple, plan on getting married after the performance, much to the dismay of temperamental blues singer, Rita Ross (Gertrude Michael), who wants Eric for herself and will stop at nothing to get him. Before the curtain goes up, Anne finds her life being threatened by falling props and sandbags that nearly miss her, causing Ellery to notify his friendly rival, Police Lieutenant Bill Murdock (Victor McLaglen) to investigate. Sadie Evans (Gail Patrick), a female investigator hired by Eric, arrives to return valuable information stolen from him by Rita. Because Miss Evans has learned more than she should, her life is threatened by Helene Smith (Jessie Ralph), a wardrobe woman with a mysterious past of her own. During a performance, blood is felt dripping upon a chorus girl, causing her to scream and Murdock to trace the dripping blood to the body of Sadie Evans, stabbed by a large pin. When Rita threatens to expose what she knows about Eric in Vienna, she, too is murdered by a mysterious bullet. The show goes on as Ellery and Murdock work together in hope of rounding up the usual suspects.

Other members of the cast include Charles Middleton as Shakespearean actor Homer Boothby; Donald Meek as Doctor J.T. Saunders; and Barbara Fritchie as Viven. Notable performances go out to the comic-strip appearance of Dorothy Stickney as Norma Watson, Rita's abused maid; and Toby Wing as Nancy, the giggly blonde wanting desperately some time alone with Jack Ellery, who constantly casts her aside until later. Kitty Carlisle, best known for her role opposite the Marx Brothers in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (MGM, 1935), and as TV's panelist on the 1960-70s quiz show, TO TELL THE TRUTH, performs well in her motion picture debut, especially opposite Carl Brisson who, at times, resembles Carlisle's NIGHT AT THE OPERA love interest, Allan Jones, but minus the Danish accent.

A well-crafted murder mystery with an abundance of fine tunes by Arthur Johnson, Sam Coslow and Johnny Burke, include: "Cocktails for Two" (sung by Carl Brisson); "Where Do They Come From and Where Do They Go?" (sung by Kitty Carlisle); "Lovely One" (sung by male chorus); "Where Do They Come From and Where Do They Go?" (concluded by Carlisle); "Live and Love Tonight" (sung by Brisson); "Sweet Marijuana" (sung by Gertrude Michael); "Cradle Me With a Hatcha Lullaby" (instrumentally performed by male dancers); "The Rape of the Rhapsody" (sung by Brisson, orchestrated by Duke Ellington and his Band; reprized by Kitty Carlisle); "Doing the Ebony Rhapsody" (sung by Gertrude Michael); "Cocktails for Two" (sung by Brisson, chorus); and Finale: "Live and Love Tonight," "Sweet Marijuana" and "Cocktails for Two."

While "Cocktails for Two" became a song hit that that was later spoofed in the 1940s by band-leader Spike Jones, "Live and Love Tonight" is actually one of the better and nicer tunes helped by its production number treatment set on an island with Brisson as the sole male surrounded by under-dressed island girls (Carlisle included) and others using ostrich feathers as water waves. Gertrude Michael's rendition to "Sweet Marijuana" surrounded by dancing shadows, appears to be the sort of tune 35 years ahead of its time, fitting more into the 1960s hippie generation than 1934. Franz Liszt's "Second Hungarian Rhapsody," the longest of the production numbers, is an interesting attempt turning slow tempo classical composition to upbeat jazzy orchestration with Duke Ellington at the piano. Larry Ceballos and LeRoy Prinz are credited for their impressive (or suggestive) choreography.

Rarely televised possibly due to its subject matter that make precode movies all the more worth seeing today, MURDER AT THE VANITIES, having been one of an assortment of rare classic films aired Sunday nights (1974-75) on Hartford, Connecticut's WFSB, Channel 3, did become available on home video in the 1980s (retail price: $59.95) and finally DVD in 2009. Its availability should add to the rediscovery of buried treasures such as this. (***)

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