Private Scandal is a 1934 American Pre-Code comedy film directed by Ralph Murphy and written by Vera Caspary, Garrett Fort and Bruce Manning. The film stars ZaSu Pitts, Phillips Holmes, ... See full summary »



(story "In Conference"), | 1 more credit »


Complete credited cast:
Miss Coates (as ZaSu Pitts)
Cliff Barry
Fran Somers
Inspector Riordan
Benjamin J. Somers
Adele Smith
Harold Waldridge ...
Jed Prouty ...
H.R. Robbins
Mr. Terwilliger
Rollo Lloyd ...
Insurance Agent Henry Lane
Olive Tell ...
Deborah Lane
Ed, Coroner


Private Scandal is a 1934 American Pre-Code comedy film directed by Ralph Murphy and written by Vera Caspary, Garrett Fort and Bruce Manning. The film stars ZaSu Pitts, Phillips Holmes, Mary Brian, Ned Sparks, Lew Cody, June Brewster and Harold Waldridge. The film was released on May 11, 1934, by Paramount Pictures.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Mystery


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Release Date:

11 May 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In Conference  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »

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User Reviews

There are lots of private scandals going on here...
19 June 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...but only one ultimately requires the attention of the police.

Benjamin Somers (Lew Cody) is building a housing development entitled "Eden Gardens". He is asking for more money from the investors, but they are confronting him asking him what he has done with the money they already gave him. Plus the investors have hired a very unpleasant person to investigate where the money is. Somers stalls them off for a day, so he can ask an old friend of his to front him some more money. The truth is, and what he admits to one of his employees and the fiancé of his daughter (Phillips Holmes as Cliff), is that he gambled that money on the stock market and lost it all. Somers is not only worried about his good name, he actually is worried that all of the investors will be without anything if he doesn't get the money back. He mentions to Cliff that his life insurance policies are enough to pay everybody back, but doesn't mention the suicide plot he is hatching.

That night, Cliff and Somers' daughter Fran (Mary Brian) are out on the town. Cliff decides to call Somers at the office, only to have Somers tell him he is about to kill himself because his old friend and last hope refuses to help him with more cash, and that Cliff needs to come over and hide the gun after he is dead so that the life insurance policies will pay off and the investors will have their money back. Horrified at this information, Cliff drives to the scene hoping to stop the suicide, but it is too late. Somers is slumped at his office, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. In fact, Cliff hears the shot from his car. So Cliff does only what he can do at this point. He hides the gun in his own office, so it will look like a murder took place, and the life insurance will pay off. Plus he wants to hide the fact that Somers was an embezzler and a suicide from Somers' daughter, Fran. You have to wonder, what WOULD have Somers done if Cliff hadn't have called him? Was he planning to call somebody else to hide the gun? But I digress.

It's a good thing Cliff is honest, because he is the worst criminal accomplice in the history of the world. As he leaves he is seen by the night watchman, and tells him that Somers has left. The next morning, Somers' secretary sees the "IN CONFERENCE" light on in Somers' office (his dead finger is on the button) and wants to go in and ask Somers something. Cliff stops her, and tells her Somers came in early and is talking to somebody important. He tells several other people in the office that he saw Somers either leaving or entering his office. And then there is that pesky weapon in his office. In short, he is getting caught in a web of lies that are easily contradicted by his dead boss' body.

The police do show up, after the office personnel discover the body, and Ned Sparks is the detective in charge. The thing is, he is acting like Ned Sparks did in every other film he's ever been in - rude, with a personality dipped in vinegar, pushing everybody around, and acting like everybody is going to jail. And you can't help but notice that the whole office is acting very guilty about SOMETHING. It turns out they all have something to hide, just not necessarily having anything to do with the dead body of their old boss.

How will this all work out? Watch and find out. It is a very good mystery with a great ensemble cast and there is actually even more to Somers' death than I am telling you here, but I want you to do some head scratching of your own. Highly recommended.

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