IMDb > Murder at the Vanities (1934)

Murder at the Vanities (1934) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

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6.7/10   382 votes »
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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:
Mischievous musical and Pre-Code last hurrah 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)
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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
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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:
This is the film that contains the "Sweet Marijuana" song and dance number. It got past the censors because at the time the film was made, the drug was not illegal. Today, most prints omit this production number all together.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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 »
Quotes:
Jack Ellery:[to Murdock] Why don't you take your lamps off those dames and do a little police work?See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Cocktails For TwoSee more »

FAQ

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
Mischievous musical and Pre-Code last hurrah, 24 January 2009
Author: melvelvit-1 from NYC suburbs

Released just before the Production Code crackdown in July, 1934, Mitch Leisen's all-star Paramount musical is both leeringly suggestive -some even claim misogynistic- and a heck of a lot of fun. Two murders occur on the opening night of "Earl Carroll's Vanities" (one on-stage), but that doesn't stop the manager (Jack Oakie) from putting on a show as a lascivious police detective (Victor McLaglen) investigates. Everyone is hiding something and Gypsy Rose Lee must have seen this backstage murder mystery before she penned "The G-String Murders" as the denouement is similar, albeit more satisfying here. Gertrude Michael, as a vicious diva, stops the show (in more ways than one) with her exotic "Sweet Marijuana" number and Duke Ellington finishes with the truncated "Rape Of The Rhapsody". The hit song, "Cocktails For Two", also came from this bizarre and bawdy camp classic. Here's Louella O. Parsons in the "Los Angeles Examiner" on May 17, 1934:

Earl Carroll's hand-picked beauties' pirouette about on the Grauman United Artists screen in a fig leaf and not much else. But September Morn herself never had a better figure than these charmers, who are made up to please the eye, especially the eye of the tired businessman. But don't for a moment think Mr. Carroll's girls, au naturelle, are the only attraction. Believe it or not, MURDER AT THE VANITIES is a musical comedy thriller, if you know what I mean -a murder mystery incorporated in a musical show. It all happens on the opening night at the time the play is in progress and a search is on for a murderer. Just by way of suspense, a cop threatens to stop the show every few minutes. Victor McLaglen is something new in cops. All the time he is trying to track down the murderer, he keeps his eye fastened on the chorus beauties. The murder mystery is good with the exception of the denouement, which is pretty flat. Probably faulty direction. Dorothy Stickney, who plays the maid, is about as melodramatic as the heroine in a ten, twenty, and thirty show. For no good reason, she rates a never-ending closeup in the big dramatic scene. The girl ensembles are good, and it's a positive relief to get away from the inevitable overhead shots. The costumes are beautiful; in fact, this is a musical that Paramount can feel is really to their credit. As for Carl Brisson -well, he would be an addition to any show. Good-looking with a delightful singing voice and an easy, assured manner, he is all his press agents claim for him. I also like Kitty Carlisle, who plays the leading lady in the show. Gertrude Michael, as the deep-eyed villainess, gives an interesting if rather fictional portrayal. Jack Oakie, as the stage manager, is the same old wisecracking Jack, but we wouldn't change him. Jessie Ralph is excellent as the seamstress. Others in the cast are Charles Middleton, Gail Patrick, Donald Meek, Barbara Fritchie, Toby Wing and Lona Andre. The screen play is by Carey Wilson and Rufus King, and the direction by Mitchell Leisen. The music is by Arthur Johnstone and the lyrics by Sam Coslow. In addition to MURDER AT THE VANITIES, there is a Mickey Mouse cartoon, a Paramount Newsreel, and a two-reeler, THE WRONG DIRECTION.

I disagree with Lolly on the denouement, it's satisfying if over-the-top. Why would she blame the director? Was she displeased with the story's ending -or the way it was staged? And what's a "ten, twenty, or thirty show"? Note the swipe taken at Busby Berkeley and his "overhead shots". As hard as it may be to believe today, the public was tiring of Buzz' schtick by May, 1934. Mitch Leisen said, "if you are showing a stage show that's supposed to be in a theater, you should stay within the bounds of the proscenium arch, and not do a Buzz Berkeley routine with a stage set that's acres big."

Q: Don't you think Berkeley's spectacular effects justified taking this liberty? ML: Apparently they did because they're reviving all of his pictures and none of mine, but personally I don't like it.

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