11 user 3 critic

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:
Dr. Jay
Helen Flint ...
Isobel Federie
Eddie Shubert ...
Detective Muldoon
Walter Walker ...
Richard Federie

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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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nurse Sarah Keate: Well, this gets more and more like a fairy story - Cinderella's slipper found by her Prince Charming, except you weren't built for the part.
Detective Lt. Lance O'Leary: Well, I may not be a prince - just a detective.
Nurse Sarah Keate: You still overestimate yourself.
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Followed by The Patient in Room 18 (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

Routine, Tidy -- And Love That Nurse!
30 January 2006 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

This is among the better entries in the comedy/mystery genre popular in the 1940s. No one liked the person murdered. Many people had reason to do him or her in. All are assembled in creepy surroundings.

Apart from a plot that's easy and logical, what sets this apart is Aline MacMahon. She plays a nurse who happens to be in the house and who helps the police solve the crime.

MacMahon was unique in Hollywood history. Though only in her thirties here, she was already playing an old maid. Yet she had an occasional fling at glamor roles. And she was an exceptionally good actress, with a haunting beauty.

Her rather heavy-lidded eyes seem to bore right through her co-players, here as elsewhere. ZaSu Pitts had a somewhat parallel career. But at least Erich Von Stroheim saw her as a beauty and a great actress.

Maybe MacMahon really couldn't have done it. But I think she had the potential for far greater roles than she was given. As strange as this probably sounds, I can see her, decades later, as the tragic Mary Tyrone in "Long Day's Journey Into Night." (She would surely have been better than Katharine Hepburn, an actress, I often liked, in that role.)

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