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Calling Philo Vance (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller  |  3 February 1940 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 179 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.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Stephenson ...
Margot Stevenson ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Edward Brophy ...
Ryan
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
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Storyline

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tres horas trágicas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

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

Quotes

Avery: [Referring to Vance's secret mission] ... and you understand the American government must not enter into this.
Philo Vance: I know. If I'm caught, I shall be a man without a country.
Avery: More than that, Vance. Possibly also a man without a head!
Philo Vance: Hmmm, not an amusing thought, your excellency.
See more »

Connections

Follows The Dragon Murder Case (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Happy About the Whole Thing
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Vance and Ryan meet Grassi in the bar
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Warner Bros. programmer gives Philo Vance role to James Stephenson...
8 November 2007 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

While I do like JAMES STEPHENSON as an actor (he was excellent in THE LETTER with Bette Davis), he lacks the sort of debonair charm needed for the role of Philo Vance in CALLING PHILO VANCE. However, that's not integral to your enjoyment of this updating of "The Kennel Murder Case" which was made in '40 when the Nazis were making big strides during World War II.

Secret stolen plans for a bomber falling into the hands of German agents is the crux of the matter here, to the tune of $250,000. The story begins with Vance accepting an assignment in Vienna where he is trying to find out whether Archer Coe is selling aircraft plans to a foreign country. But the main story begins when he's deported to the U.S., escapes authorities and returns to investigate the case for Chief Investigator Markham (HENRY O'NEILL).

The wealthy household where Coe died in a locked room, is at first ruled as the scene of a suicide but soon evidence proves it to be a murder and there are several suspects--among them, RALPH FORBES, DONALD DOUGLAS and MARTIN KOSLECK, in an unusual role as a butler. Kosleck usually played German spies in all the Warner war films.

Under Stanely Clements' direction, the tale moves quickly to an all too abrupt conclusion with very little explanation given for the intricate murder plot. While not exactly plausible, it does make an interesting mystery for who-dun-it fans with some clever touches in the script.

But the main disappointment lies in not having a satisfactory actor in the Philo Vance role.


4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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