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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Good Little-Known Thriller

Author: BaronBl00d ( from NC
26 May 2002

Reuben Marshall plays a detective on vacation in a ritzy suburb writing about his exploits when invited to a party where death visits a couple of the guests. Marshall, his Irish sidekick in tow, discovers who the culprit is in this very interesting little mystery dealing with an above-average mystery plot. The story has several red herrings laced into it and is compelling for its age and era. The acting is nothing spectacular, but everyone concerned does a workmanlike job. There is also a generous dose of humour within the mystery. Some of the characterizations are very one-dimensional, yet, as a whole, the picture is generally well-crafted. I think it is odd that the film does not have a little more noteriety as it is a much better film than many mysteries of the same period.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Slick little murder mystery

Author: pdutram from United States
4 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you purchase the DVD, it will say this film was produced in 1932. It's immediately obvious that this slick production was not that early a film. Produced in 1936 by Invincible, this murder-in-the-mansion mystery, in the Philo Vance mold, is very well staged. John Miljan, who would go on to a long career as a supporting actor, here has the lead as detective-mystery writer Bill Holt, aided by his befuddled ex-boxer sidekick James Burtis. There's three killings to solve and plenty of suspects. Irene Ware has the female lead, but is much too beautiful to be guilty. Holt's obvious interest in her testifies to her character. (Whatever happened to Irene Ware who had an all too brief career in the 30s anyhow?) The remaining characters all had motives. The pace is very procedural, as you won't form any real sympathy for the victims, but moves along nicely, much like a Perry Mason mystery. This is no house-bound production that takes place all in the mansion (what you might expect if it was a 1932 film), but moves about lively, and contains some nice unexpected action scenes. The plot is good, Miljan is very good, and Irene Ware is very beautiful. What more could you want?

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Good mystery with a bit too much going on

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
19 January 2008

The title is a misleading in that the location is never mentioned.

That said this is the story of a great detective on vacation and attempting to write his memoirs. His sidekick has alerted the neighbors that he is in neighborhood and so they show up to see the great detective in person. In short order he finds himself invited to a party where the dynamics of the people there make the dysfunctional families on soaps seem normal. That night after the party is over two shots are heard in the night, and three people are found dead...

This is a good little thriller that should have been longer than the 67 minutes it runs. Too much time is spent in the beginning being funny, although you do get to know and like the two detectives better then if you were just dropped into the middle of things. And the end is rushed just a tad.

The cast of characters is very interesting if a bit over loaded with names and faces, its too many in too short a time. The mystery is interesting simply because even if you get part of it you won't get it all.

This is the sort of movie thats hard to write about in that its neither fish nor fowl. Certainly its a murder mystery but there is so much else going on in it, comedy, soap opera, romance crime drama that its hard to know whats what and which is which. As I said its too short for its 67 minutes.

This is part of a series of films called The Crime Club, which were nominally based on a best selling mystery novel series and which, as a film series, bounced between two or three studios. My understanding is that this was a good series of films that never varied in quality, either good or bad, other than being very watchable. From this entry its certainly a series I would try to pick up if I could.

If you like good little thrillers, especially ones that try, but not always succeed at being more than run of the mill, then search this out. And even if you don't search it out, but run across it by all means do watch it since you will enjoy it.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A better than average B

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
23 July 2011

"Murder at Glen Athol" is a B-movie with a limited budget and mostly no-name stars. John Miljan stars in the film and he has a face you might recognize--he played bad guys in quite a few Bs. He was a pretty good actor and his lovely voice sounded a lot like a combination of Otto Kruger's and Charles Butterworth's--but he never became a big star. Instead, he found steady work in lower-budget films. Here in this film, however, it's one of those times where he actually got to play the hero--and he did a nice job of it.

Miljan plays a famous detective who is on vacation. And, like most famous factional detectives (such as Charlie Chan and Jessica Fletcher), a vacation means someone will get murdered and this cop will get called in to help the locals solve the crime. This is just one of those screen clichés you'll just need to accept without questioning.

So why did I like it enough to give it a 7 (which is a very high score for a B)? Well, the acting and production values were surprisingly good, the murder mystery and how Miljan's character dealt with the murders was unique and I liked the sidekick--who, though a bit dumb, wasn't THAT dumb and often was quite handy--something that you couldn't say about most detective sidekicks (such as Birmingham Brown or Dr. Watson). All in all, an enjoyable film that managed to be a bit better than you'd expect. And, considering you can download it free from the link on IMDb, that's plenty of reason to see it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

See John Miljan laugh!!! in this enjoyable murder mystery!!

Author: kidboots from Australia
28 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For once John Miljan is playing a good guy, a detective who is now writing his memoirs, instead of the slippery villains he often played.

Detective Holt is invited to a party by daffy Muriel (Iris Adrian) - "we're going to go places and drink things!!!" Muriel, who is married, is a bit of a troublemaker and spreads a rumour that she is planning to run off with Tommy (Barry Norton), as soon as she is divorced from his brother Harry. Harry (James Eagles), unbeknownst to everyone, has escaped from the mental institution to which he has been confined.

"I'll come with you" - "No Tommy, telephoning for Jamaica rum is a woman's work!!" When Gus Colleti (Noel Madison) comes with the booze, it is clear Muriel and Gus have some unfinished business involving letters and canceled cheques. Holt has to intervene and make Gus behave like a gentleman. Muriel (who has been the life of the movie, although I would definitely not compare her to Louise Brooks!!!) suddenly feels tired and goes to bed. She never recovers!!! Before long 2 other murders occur - Tommy's brother, Harry is shot by the butler, who seeing him on the roof mistakes him for a burglar. Jane (Irene Ware), who has caught the eye of Holt, comes across the body of Campbell Snowden (Harry Holman), then Holt discovers Muriel's body in bed. All clues point to Harry Randel as the killer but Jane is convinced someone else is the killer and is trying to blacken Harry's name. Holt decides to investigate. He goes to the hospital and finds Harry had a visitor before his escape - Jane, who just happens to be his ex-fiancé. Also the confession he made before his death turns out to be a confession about killing a dog!!

Everything falls into place in this enjoyable murder mystery. As usual with these little gems, the supporting cast is sometimes more interesting than the film itself. Betty Blythe, who shot to fame as the Queen of Sheba, plays Ann Randel, and looks pretty good for her age. Barry Norton, who briefly found fame in "4 Devils" and "Sins of the Fathers" (both in 1928) before talkies revealed his very thick accent - he plays Tom Randel. Noel Madison mostly played gangsters and low lifes but on stage he played sophisticated socialites - he plays Gus.


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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"Canary" Re-Make Boasts Two Big Pluses, Plus Many Minuses!

Author: JohnHowardReid
2 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although using an almost identical plot and characters, this slackly directed thriller generally comes across as a ruthlessly pedestrian re-working of The Canary Murder Case. True, the original was snowed under with talk, but this uncredited re-make is even worse. As far as action is concerned, only the car crash has equal impact in both movies. In Glen Athol, however, not only does the direction seem twice as dull and the incessant dialogue five times as wearisome, but most (though not all) of the players rate as far inferior to William Powell and company.

To everyone's surprise, this generally lackluster re-visit does provide two significant exceptions in the acting department. Iris Adrian gives Louise Brooks—would you believe?—a real run for her money here and definitely comes out way ahead. Of course, Iris has the advantage of using her own voice, but she also wears a dazzlingly slinky costume that makes Miss Brooks' outfit seem almost Victorian. Furthermore, Iris is allowed more screen time to establish her character.

Also benefiting from a similar character expansion is the lovely Irene Ware who easily outclasses the dowdily photographed and costumed Jean Arthur.

But otherwise, The Canary Murder Case, while it certainly has its share of defects, is definitely the superior film. Even William Powell at his second best is miles ahead of John Miljan. And as for wearisome James Burtis who obnoxiously plays Miljan's Man Friday as a Heath-like stooge, the least said the better!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Famous detectives don't get vacations

Author: csteidler from Minnesota
16 July 2011

Murder at Glen Athol is a neat little mystery with a bit of comedy, a bit of romance, a bit of gangster picture thrown in—not much of any of those other elements, just enough to keep the viewer slightly off-balance. John Miljan is vacationing detective Bill Holt, a man who keeps his own balance, deftly managing a variety of suspects, the usual dumb cops, and a quickly-developing love affair with Jane Maxwell (played by Irene Ware), who is given brief consideration as a suspect but obviously works better as a love interest.

John Miljan is more familiar as the scheming crook he played in so many movies, but here at the center of this story he gets a chance to show some strong qualities as a lead, and some versatility in the range of his relationships with the other characters. His banter with James Burtis, the requisite housekeeper/assistant/right-hand man, is light but amusing enough. (Miljan's attempt to take a vacation and write his memoirs is interrupted in the film's opening scene by Burtis's insistent vacuuming around the desk Miljan is typing at.) His interactions with the various suspects are cool and cautious, as he isn't (and we aren't) sure just who might take a shot at him, stick a knife in him, or whack him on the side of the head. (Those things do seem to happen in this particular house he's visiting.) He shows deference to the police investigators, but doesn't throw away any valuable clues by turning them over, either.

Miljan's romance with Irene Ware is perhaps the oddest of these relationships. I'm not overly picky, and I know things have to move fast in a 64-minute movie, but this detective drops some lines that are awfully sappy for as serious-minded a character as he otherwise seems. Entering the gambling room at the house party, she declines to play, but he thinks he'll take a whirl at the roulette table anyway: "No matter what happens, it'll still be the luckiest night of my life." "Why do you say that?" she wonders. "Oh," he replies, "I just happened to meet a girl named Jane Maxwell." --Even Jane Maxwell finds this a bit much, and laughingly answers, "Well, come on, Mr. Detective, we'll see how lucky you are."

The mystery elements are done well; the picture moves along at a splendid clip. Well worth a viewing.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Engrossing Story from a poverty row studio

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
20 March 2012

John Miljan who normally played smooth and oily villains plays a smooth and dapper detective of the William Powell school in Murder At Glen Athol. Although this film was done for a poverty row outfit called Invincible Pictures this was not a bad film and could have easily been a B film from one of the units at a major studio.

The dapper Miljan and his ex-pug house man James Burtis get invited next door to a swank society event sponsored by brother and sister Oscar Apfel and Betty Blythe. Among the guests is brassy Iris Adrian who before the evening is out has any number of people wanting to kill her. But later not only is Iris dead, but two other people as well including Blythe's son who made what could be and was taken for a confession.

Of course in true murder mystery tradition it's not all that simple. Miljan does a good job in sorting through the obvious suspects and in the end the puzzle is solved.

The sets are flimsy and threadbare, but the story is engrossing and the end was if not quite original taken from Agatha Christie's Murder On The Orient Express in terms of justice. Check this one out.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Interesting whodunit

Author: gridoon2016
16 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a fairly elaborate whodunit: there are multiple murders, even more clues, red herrings, etc., but the solution makes sense, both technically and emotionally. The hero, a famous detective on vacation who gets involved in the case anyway, seems to be modelled on Hercule Poirot (whose first few adventures had already been written by Agatha Christie at that time): the key to his finally bringing it all together in his head is provided by a random comment by his Hastings-like sidekick, and then he gathers all the suspects to one place to announce his conclusions. There is a nice pair of contrasting ladies: the sweet shy one is Irene Ware, and the bold brash one is Iris Adrian, who gives the liveliest performance in the film. **1/2 out of 4.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"You don't need a vacuum cleaner to get the dirt around here."

Author: classicsoncall from United States
26 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Another reviewer for this film makes a good point as far as ratings go. Most B mysteries from the Thirties and Forties start out as a 'six' in my book and work their way down from there. It's the rare picture that goes in the other direction to rise above that norm. This is one of the more cleverly crafted flicks to come out of the era, not so much for the acting or the dialog, but in the solution to the murders committed in the story. The resolution allows one of the killers off the hook, and it's done in a way to allow both the murderer and the detective to maintain a dubious integrity.

The major hurdle however that one must get past is the idea that three, count 'em, three deaths occur in the same house at virtually the same time, and each of them occurs at the hands of a different person. You're not going to figure this out if you're not paying attention, but if you follow along carefully, each murder is spelled out logically by our hero detective (John Miljan), even as he gives Ann Randel (Betty Blythe) a pass at the end of the picture. Of course he's vindicated in the closing scene when it's learned that Ann Randel committed suicide with her secret intact. I got the feeling she did it half out of remorse and half to pay back Holt for his good deed.

Along the way though, you've got plenty of twists, turns and red herrings, and a fair helping of comic relief from Holt's butler Jeff (James P. Burtis) as he proves more helpful than bumbling, even if it doesn't seem so. He did find the carnation after all. I also got a kick out of the black maid who thought she'd turn 'white as a sheet' with all the murders going on. The PC police probably wouldn't find it funny today but I thought it was handled tastefully enough.

All in all this was a pretty clever little mystery flick that stacks up well against some of my favorites from the era - Charlie Chan, Mr. Wong, and Bulldog Drummond. It's not often a picture like this merits a second viewing, but this is one I'd recommend for it's brisk pace and clever ending. And need I say, Irene Ware is definitely pleasing to look at.

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