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19 user 6 critic

The Bishop Murder Case (1930)

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 (as Nick Grindé)

Writers:

S.S. Van Dine (from the book by), Lenore J. Coffee (adaptation)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Basil Rathbone ... Philo Vance
Leila Hyams ... Belle Dillard
Roland Young ... Sigurd Arnesson
Alec B. Francis ... Professor Bertrand Dillard
George F. Marion ... Adolph Drukker
Zelda Sears Zelda Sears ... Mrs. Otto Drukker
Bodil Rosing ... Grete Menzel
Carroll Nye ... John E. Sprigg
Charles Quatermaine Charles Quatermaine ... John Pardee (as Charles Quartermaine)
James Donlan James Donlan ... Ernest Heath
Sidney Bracey ... Pyne (as Sydney Bracey)
Clarence Geldart ... John F.-X. Markham
Delmer Daves ... Raymond Sperling
Nellie Bly Baker Nellie Bly Baker ... Beedle
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Storyline

The murders start with the body of Robin. He is found with a arrow through the heart, but Vance deduces that the body was placed and not found where he was killed. The note found dealing with the murder was part of a nursery rhyme and signed by 'Bishop'. The only witness may have been Mrs. Drukker and Adolph, but they are not talking. As the murders progress, each one is accompanied by a nursery rhyme. It is up to Philo Vance to unravel the clues and unmask the identity of the murderer 'Bishop'. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

ALL-TALKING!...ALL-THRILLS! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 January 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Biskop-Mordet See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Completed in 1929, but not released until early 1930. See more »

Goofs

When Vance and fellow detectives investigate the body of Robin, who has been shot with an arrow, the angle of the arrow changes. Sometimes it's straight up out of the body, other times it's at almost a 45 degree angle. See more »

Quotes

Ernest Heath: [to Sperling, who is unresponsive] Well, young fella, you thought you'd get away, did yuh? Oh, you're one of those silent lads, are you? Say, we'll have you talkin' so much that lockjaw will look like a case of St. Vitus dance!
See more »

Connections

Followed by Philo Vance Returns (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

Aloha Oe
(1908) (uncredited)
Music by Queen Liliuokalani
Played on a radio
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very satisfying Philo Vance entry though a little creaky in spots
30 August 2005 | by krorieSee all my reviews

"The Bishop Murder Case" is one of the best in the Philo Vance film series. The mystery seems a bit silly at first when children's nursery rhymes are used by the perpetrator of the crimes to publicize his murders, not unlike methods used by present-day serial killers. But once the plot unfolds the nursery rhyme angle makes complete sense. The Bishop is a key figure in solving the mystery as the title indicates. So keep your eyes focused on that clue. I won't say any more except to add that this is a complex mystery.

Basil Rathbone is second only to William Powell in breathing life into S.S. Van Dine's famous private investigator. It's obvious from this performance why Rathbone was chosen at the end of the decade to play Sherlock Holmes. The other actor who shines in this movie is Roland Young. Though much of the acting hearkens back to the silent era which was coming to an end, Rathbone and Young seem modern in their approach. From playing on stage and in silent pictures, actors were used to wild exaggerations and outlandish gesticulations which were no longer needed now that movies could talk. Several of the characters in "The Bishop Murder Case" have not yet adjusted to working with sound. Not so Rathbone and Young.

Another early talky distraction for modern viewers is the absence of music for dramatic effect. Since live music was used to accentuate the silent screen action and mood, it seems strange that music was not immediately utilized for the same purposes on the talky screen. Producers were misinformed that music coming from nowhere would puzzle and confuse the audience. So it took a few years for Hollywood to rid itself of this misconception. The decision not to use music plus fairly primitive sound effects (the viewer will readily recognize the sound of thunder as the sound of huge sheets of metal being snapped)take away from the overall effects of this otherwise clever and well-written murder mystery.


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