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While the Patient Slept (1935)

Approved | | Comedy, Mystery | 9 March 1935 (USA)
Grandfather is sick and the family and his lawyer gather around waiting for him to die. When he receives a telegram from his disinherited son, Charles, he passes out and a nurse, Sarah, ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Aline MacMahon ...
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Dorothy Tree ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Russell Hicks ...
Dr. Jay
Helen Flint ...
Isobel Federie
Brandon Hurst ...
Eddie Shubert ...
Detective Muldoon
Walter Walker ...
Richard Federie


Grandfather is sick and the family and his lawyer gather around waiting for him to die. When he receives a telegram from his disinherited son, Charles, he passes out and a nurse, Sarah, comes to the house to attend to him. His other two sons, Ross and Adolphe, quarrel over an outstanding loan. Later that night, Adolphe is murdered and the police are called. Everyone is lying and has their reasons. A mysterious man is seen on the property before Grondel, the Butler, is killed. When the reporters arrive, they write wild stories as O'Leary looks for the killer with little help from Det. Jackson. Sarah has nothing but wisecracks for O'Leary but does offer some clues to the identity of the murderer. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Mystery






Release Date:

9 March 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Clue Club #2: While the Patient Slept  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Elihu Dimuck: Let me go! Let me Go! Are you insane, O'Leary?
Nurse Sarah Keate: [to O'Leary] Don't let the question embarrass you.
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Remade as The Nurse's Secret (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

Aline MacMahon Shines In Murder Mystery Movie
25 November 2001 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

WHILE THE PATIENT SLEPT in the creepy old house, his alert nurse looks for clues that will help catch a killer...

Fast-moving & fun, this is another example of the comedy crime picture that Warner Brothers was so expert at producing. Casts & plots could be shuffled endlessly, with very predictable results. While this assembly line approach created few classics, audience enjoyment could usually be assured.

Intricately plotted, the film boasts excellent production values & a finely sustained spooky atmosphere. Clutching hands, hidden passageways, resentful relatives, suspicious servants & sudden death all make this a prime entry into the Old Dark House genre of suspense films. However, there are enough solid laughs to help lighten the mood.

Aline MacMahon, as a starched no-nonsense nurse, shows once again why she was one of the finest character actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. Her facial expressions & body movements are perfectly controlled and constantly entertaining to watch. Arch & angular, she has the right riposte for any situation, but she is also warmhearted & fearlessly brave. From her very first scene, Miss MacMahon puts the picture in her pocket & walks off with it.

Chubby Guy Kibbee & loudmouthed Allen Jenkins both add considerably to the entertainment as the cops assigned to the murder case. The suspects consist of a whole gaggle of cousins, including pretty Patricia Ellis, stalwart Lyle Talbot, prissy Hobart Cavanaugh & spiteful Dorothy Tree - as well as mysterious butler Brandon Hurst & the family lawyer, Henry O'Neill.

The MacMahon & Kibbee characters reappear in THE PATIENT IN ROOM 18 (1938) and MYSTERY HOUSE (1938), although portrayed by other performers.

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