The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Mystery  |  2 June 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 151 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 3 critic

The zany plot follows nitwit Gracie Allen trying to help master sleuth Philo Vance solve a murder. Allen's uncle fixes her up with Bill at a company picnic. When the two go out to a ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based on the book by), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Bill Brown
Judith Barrett ...
Dixie Del Marr
Donald MacBride ...
Jed Prouty ...
Uncle Ambrose
Jerome Cowan ...
Daniel Mirche
Richard Lawrence
Sam Lee ...
Thug (as Sammy Lee)
Al Shaw ...
Richard Denning ...
Irving Bacon ...
Hotel Clerk


The zany plot follows nitwit Gracie Allen trying to help master sleuth Philo Vance solve a murder. Allen's uncle fixes her up with Bill at a company picnic. When the two go out to a nightclub that night, Gracie inadvertently links Bill to the murder of a thug after finding the dead body and Bill's cigarette case at the scene of the crime. While being questioned at the club, she meets Vance who's investigating the homicide. After Gracie's bungled attempts to solve the case, Vance decides it might be easier to have her working with him. Despite Gracie's "help," the two eventually find the real killer. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Comédia de um Crime  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


A longtime fan of comedians George Burns and Gracie Allen, 'Philo Vance' creator S. S. Van Dine wrote a tailor-made screenplay for the team, which emerged on-screen as 'The Gracie Allen Murder Case'. George Burns suggested his character be eliminated, leaving scatterbrained Gracie on her own to match wits with urbane private detective Philo Vance. Despite his on-screen absence, Burns was on set every day cheering on his wife. See more »


Maitre d': I'll get you a waiter right away.
Gracie Allen: Make it two. I'm starved.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits show a grist mill. Each of the paddles has a character name and the actor who portrays him; the other credits are listed against a background of the nearby web rocks. See more »


Followed by Philo Vance's Secret Mission (1947) See more »


Snug as a Bug in the Rug
Music by Matty Malneck
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Sung by Gracie Allen
See more »

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User Reviews

Not so bad after all!
6 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

Everyone dislikes this picture. Especially George Burns, who had the good sense not to appear in it. (His part was re-written to accommodate Kent Taylor). Gracie, of course, was stuck. Her good friend, S.S. Van Dine, had written the novel just for her. So who else could play the title role? ZaSu Pitts? Billie Burke? Perhaps Alice Brady might have given it a twirl had she not gone all serious in In Old Chicago.

Well, actually, on approaching the movie a second time, I found it not so bad after all. Not riotously funny, mind, but tolerably entertaining at worst and quite enjoyable at best. The climax is even reasonably suspenseful.

Production values generally come well up to the mark. The support cast is great. Warren William (who played Vance in 1934's Dragon Murder Case) makes a delightful straight man, Ellen Drew impresses as the heroine, H.B. Warner has a grand time as the lawyer, and it's hard to ignore Jerome Cowan as the slimy Mirche.

Aside from its over-extended, hands-on fade-out, Green's direction has enough pace to overcome most of Gracie's flat-footed business and dialogue. And although we are blinded by an outpouring of light every time the camera focuses on the said Miss Allen, photographer Charles Lang does manage more than a few pleasingly atmospheric effects.

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