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William A. Seiter
When Philo Vance receives a note that harm will befall Lynn at the casino that night, he takes the threat seriously while the DA dismisses it. At the casino owned by Uncle Kinkaid, Lynn is indeed poisoned under the watchful eye of Philo. However, he recovers, but the same cannot be said for Lynn's wife Virginia, who is at the family home. Only a family member could have poisoned Lynn and Virginia and everyone has their dark motives. Philo will follow the clues and find the perpetrator. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Virgina is poisoned, the doctor who examined her states that her pupils were dilated so much that he could barely see the retinas. The retina is a membrane in the back of the eye. He meant that he could barely see the iris. The iris is the colored part of the eye in which the pupil exists. A doctor should have known the difference between the iris and the retina. See more »
Got a gum?
[He is searched anyway]
[after Vance sits]
No, it's all in this letter to Markham.
[Vance starts to reach for the letter]
Keep your hand down. I'll take that!
[He takes the letter]
[...] See more »
An absurd unfolding murder mystery and a miscast Paul Lukas is offset by some nice comic relief.
As good an actor as Paul Lukas is, his accent destroys the illusion that he's the great American detective, Philo Vance, and I was conscious of that throughout. The murder mystery gets off to a good start, but then falters when Vance speculates that perhaps it was "heavy water" that was used as the poison, since it was not known if that substance was poisonous. That idea was pulled out of thin air in an effort to explain why people drinking water would be poisoned. I disliked this development, sensing it was just a plot device to keep the movie rolling, and I was right. He mentions deuterium, Harold Urey's experiments, and the fact a quart of the substance would be worth $100,000, but I'm sure 99% of the 1935 audience didn't know what he was talking about anyway. It would have been much better if he came across Kinkaid's laboratory isolating heavy water by accident and then thought about the possibility of its use as a poison.
But I did enjoy some of the comic relief. William Demarest plays an auctioneer trying to convince people that an ugly statue of cupid was made for Louis XIV, even after his assistant announces it says "made in Japan" on the bottom. In a running gag, Louise Fazenda plays the maid who is caught a dozen times listening at a keyhole and sheepishly says "Did you call, sir," each time. And Charles Sellon is the coroner always complaining about the inconsiderate murder victims getting bumped off just when he's trying to sleep. And there's more comedy too.
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