11 user 1 critic

Calling Philo Vance (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 3 February 1940 (USA)
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)


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Philo Vance, accompanied by his prize-losing Scottish terrier, investigates the locked-room murder of a prominent and much-hated collector whose broken Chinese vase provides an important clue.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on a London to Edinburgh train and the son of its owner is murdered, Sherlock Holmes must discover which of his suspicious fellow passengers is responsible.

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray
Certificate: Passed Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Two people with ties to rich murdered socialite Lowe Hammle die from unusual suicides but Vance suspects hypnosis and foul play.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: Edmund Lowe, Virginia Bruce, Benita Hume
Certificate: Passed Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

When the body of a man nicknamed "Cock Robin" is found with an arrow in the heart on an archery range along with a chess bishop as a clue, Philo Vance investigates.

Directors: David Burton, Nick Grinde
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Leila Hyams, Roland Young
Certificate: Passed Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Playboy Larry Blendon (Damian O'Flynn) introduces his grandmother Stella Blendon (Clara Blandick) to his fiancée, radio singer Virginia Berneaux (Ramsay Ames). Despite Larry's record of ... See full summary »

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: William Wright, Vivian Austin, Leon Belasco
Certificate: Passed Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

After socialite Lynn Llewwllen receives an anonymous threat, he is poisoned at his uncle's casino, and although he recovers, his wife is murdered by the same killer.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: Paul Lukas, Alison Skipworth, Donald Cook
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Publisher Martin Jamison sends for Philo Vance as he wants to hire him as a technical advisor on the crime stories he publishes. Paul Morgan, Morgan's partner, regards the plan as foolish. ... See full summary »

Director: Reginald Le Borg
Stars: Alan Curtis, Sheila Ryan, Tala Birell
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Philo goes after a gang of murderous jewel thieves.

Director: Basil Wrangell
Stars: Alan Curtis, Vivian Austin, Frank Jenks
Certificate: Passed Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A ruthless, crooked stockbroker is murdered at his luxurious country estate, and detective Philo Vance just happens to be there; he decides to find out who killed him.

Director: Frank Tuttle
Stars: William Powell, William 'Stage' Boyd, Eugene Pallette
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

At the end of each year, the extremely wealthy but odious Greene family gets together at the spooky old family castle to establish terms of a will, though they despise each other. This year... See full summary »

Director: Frank Tuttle
Stars: William Powell, Florence Eldridge, Ullrich Haupt
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The Stann family gives a small party prior to daughter Bernice's marriage to socialite Monty, but all of the guests seem to be against the match.

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Stars: Warren William, Margaret Lindsay, Lyle Talbot
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A beautiful showgirl, name "the Canary" is a scheming nightclub singer. Blackmailing is her game and with that she ends up dead. But who killed "the Canary". All the suspects knew and were ... See full summary »

Directors: Malcolm St. Clair, Frank Tuttle
Stars: William Powell, Jean Arthur, James Hall


Complete credited cast:
Margot Stevenson ...
Philip Wrede
Jimmy Conlin ...
Dr. Doremus - Coroner (as Jimmy Conlon)
Edward Raquello ...
Du Bois - Fingerprint Man
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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

3 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tres horas trágicas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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


Philo Vance: [Sniffing the aroma of the lipstick from the back of his hand] Gardenia, I should say. Definitely common. Do you know anything about lipstick, Ryan?
Ryan: [Taking offence] What do you think I am?
Philo Vance: Hmmm... I'll let you know.
Ryan: [Annoyed, as Vance is leaving] Okay, wise guy, you're not out of the woods yet!
Philo Vance: You're right, Ryan.
See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

29 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a remake of the "Kennel Murder Case" with Philo Vance (James Stephenson) going after some U.S. airplane plans sold to a foreign nation; the designer of the plans and his brother both wind up murdered, and there are plenty of suspects.

William Powell was probably the best Philo Vance - he had the requisite charm. Stephenson, who started in films late in life after stage work, was on his way to a big career when he made "Calling Philo Vance" - unfortunately, he died the next year, at the age of 53. As with "The Dragon Murder Case" with Warren William as Vance, the supporting players have the good lines and the energetic roles. Stephenson doesn't have a lot to work with, but he's okay.

Parts of this film are interesting, it's a little better than "The Dragon Murder Case," which isn't really saying much.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Calling Philo Vance (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: