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Calling Philo Vance (1940)

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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 170 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 1 critic

Despite an exclusive contract with the U.S. government, designer Archer Coe's design is being bid on by German, Japanese, and Italian agents - until he's murdered.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: Calling Philo Vance (1940)

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Complete credited cast:
James Stephenson ...
Margot Stevenson ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Edward Brophy ...
Sheila Bromley ...
Ralph Forbes ...
Donald Douglas ...
Philip Wrede
Jimmy Conlin ...
Dr. Doremus - Coroner (as Jimmy Conlon)
Edward Raquello ...
Creighton Hale ...
Du Bois - Fingerprint Man
Harry Strang ...
Richard Kipling ...
Wedgwood Nowell ...
Bo Ling ...
Ling Toy


Philo is in Vienna working for the US Government to see if Archer Coe is selling aircraft designs to foreign powers. He grabs the plans with Archer's signature, but is captured by police before he can escape. Deported he comes back to America and plans to confront Archer, but Archer is found dead in his locked bedroom with a gun in his hand. While it looks like a suicide, Vance knows better and the coroner finds that Archer has been shot, hit with a blunt instrument and stabbed - making suicide unlikely. But Vance is on the case and is looking to see if government secrets have been sold and who has murdered Coe. Written by Tony Fontana <>

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Release Date:

3 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Calling Philo Vance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ralph Forbes is credited onscreen as "Tom MacDonald," but throughout the film, he is called Taylor MacDonald. See more »


Dr. Doremus - Coroner: [after being called for the third time] I'd like to rent a room here until they finish this case.
See more »


Follows The Greene Murder Case (1929) See more »


An der schönen, blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube), Op.314
(1867) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauß
Whistled by Edward Brophy
See more »

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User Reviews

A Fair Entry in The Philo Vance Series
22 August 2005 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

The Philo Vance murder mystery series was entertaining and worthwhile but had one serious problem, the actor playing the lead role of Philo Vance kept changing from movie to movie. This was not true of other successful series such as Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes and Chester Morris' Boston Blackie. By far the most competent actor in the role was the indomitable William Powell, who starred in not only the best one of the Philo Vance films but a movie classic "The Kennel Murder Case." Alas, he was too good and went on to bigger and better roles, in particular the Thin Man series. What we get with "Calling Philo Vance" is James Stephenson, who makes a pleasant enough Philo Vance but he is certainly no William Powell. On the other hand, the supporting cast is equal to and sometimes even better than the supporting cast in "The Kennel Murder Case." "Calling Philo Vance" is a reworking of the "Kennel Murder Case," updating the story to involve espionage (Hitler invaded Poland the year before this movie was released). Other than the spy angle and having Philo a government agent rather than a P.I. there is not much change. The story still involves the intriguing idea of having a murder committed in a sealed and locked room. A few of the scenes are shot verbatim from the original. So why watch this one if you can get hold of the original, which is a superior film? I'm a Philo Vance fan. So I enjoyed this one too.

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