When the body of Violet Feverel is discovered on the Central Park bridle path, Inspector Oscar Piper is about to declare her death accidental from a thrown horse, until his friend and amateur detective Hildegarde Withers locates the horse and discovers blood on the horse. The coroner deems it a murder when the cause of death is shown to be by a blunt instrument on the victim's head. The suspects include Violet's ex-husband, Don Gregg, who she jailed for nonpayment of alimony, but who was just released by a forged court order; Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet's stables and who had an argument with her that morning; and Eddie Fry, who had quarreled with Violet over his seeing her sister, Barbara Foley, and who was about to elope with Barbara. At Don's Long Island home, Hildegarde and Oscar meet his sickly father, Patrick, the caretaker, Chris Thomas, and his crippled son, Joey. After Patrick is murdered, Hildegarde snoops around and discovers clues which pinpoint the murderer, who is... Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
... you never saw its three predecessors in which Edna May Oliver played schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers, partner in sleuthing to police detective Oscar Piper (James Gleason). There was something very special about the chemistry between these two. However, Helen Broderick is a more than adequate stand-in who manages to get a few good zingers in at the expense of Piper, which was the trademark of Withers when Oliver played the part.
In this entry in the series, a pretty but difficult young woman makes enemies of everyone around her, although we're told about this more than we see it - the girl barely gets more than a scene before she is murdered while riding her horse one morning. Only the homicide investigation turns up the most likely suspect - a rich ex-husband who was a husband in the first place only because the murdered woman wanted a big payoff in the form of alimony. Piper thinks he's on to something until he learns that the man in question was in jail for non payment of alimony at the time, and that the man's only close living relative, his father, who also hates the girl for what she has done to his son, is an invalid incapable of traipsing around parks early in the morning. There are other numerous less likely suspects introduced just to keep you guessing.
As usual, Hildegarde out-sleuths Piper at several key junctures, but she also makes a key miscalculation that leads up to a big joke at her expense in the last scene, after the mystery is solved. The fact that this one word - applesauce - could ever have been considered a curse word of sorts may seem strange to modern audiences. Stranger still was that the production code was so sensitive at the time that the film had to make the retort to Hildegarde appear to have two meanings.
This one is an above average mystery and well acted, just don't expect the magic of the ones with both Gleason and Oliver starring.
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