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The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

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.


Michael Curtiz


S.S. Van Dine (by), Robert N. Lee (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
William Powell ... Philo Vance
Mary Astor ... Hilda Lake
Eugene Pallette ... Detective Heath
Ralph Morgan ... Raymond Wrede - the Secretary
Robert McWade ... District Attorney Markham
Robert Barrat ... Archer Coe
Frank Conroy ... Brisbane Coe
Etienne Girardot ... Dr. Doremus
James Lee James Lee ... Liang - the Cook
Paul Cavanagh ... Sir Thomas MacDonald (as Paul Cavanaugh)
Arthur Hohl ... Gamble - the Butler
Helen Vinson ... Doris Delafield
Jack La Rue ... Eduardo Grassi (as Jack LaRue)


Archer Coe has been found dead in his locked bedroom. The cops consider it suicide, but Philo believes otherwise. When the Coroner shows up, he finds that Archer had been hit with a blunt object, stabbed and shot - making suicide unlikely. When the evidence points to his brother, Brisbane is found stabbed to death in the closet. Archer had a number of enemies, any one of which would have been glad to knock him off, but which one did and how did the murder occur in a room looked from the inside. Only one man, the keen, fascinating, debonair detective Philo Vance, would be able to figure out who is the killer. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A beautiful debutante trapped in a house of hate...A glamorous stage star keeping a tryst with a "dead" man...A corpse walking upstairs to commit suicide...A wounded dog that knew the solution to the most baffling mystery ever tackled by the most fascinating sleuth since Sherlock Holmes! See more »




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Release Date:

28 October 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Il pugnale cinese See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Buried in a stack of over 700 vintage Warner Bros. features first sold to television in 1956 by Associated Artists Productions (AAP), this film's earliest documented telecasts took place in Tucson, Arizona Thursday 21 March 1957 on KGUN (Channel 9), and a month later in Phoenix, Arizona Tuesday 23 April 1957 on KVAR (Channel 12), thus beginning what has turned out to be an endless string of non-stop airings, the longest, most continuous, most frequent, and most popular number of telecasts of any motion picture of its era. 60 years later, eight and a half decades after it was first released theatrically, it still maintains its popularity as a frequent flyer on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


The desk Sergeant taking the call at the station house about Archer Coe is wearing stripes, but has a patrolman's badge on. The Sergeant's badge is a different shape and larger. See more »


Dr. Doremus: Sergeant, here's your order for removal of the body.
Detective Sgt. Heath: Thanks, Doc.
Dr. Doremus: So long. I want food.
Detective Sgt. Heath: Well, nobody's stoppin' yuh.
Dr. Doremus: And if you got any more corpses, bring 'em out now, will yuh? I can't be running up and down here all day!
Detective Sgt. Heath: Watta yuh mean running up and down all day with that swell car the city gave yuh?
Dr. Doremus: [With frustration as he leaves] Ugh!
Detective Sgt. Heath: [as the doctor's leaving] Nothing upsets the doctor clearly.
See more »


Followed by Calling Philo Vance (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

Packed, visually astute, fun, formative whodunnit...with William Powell!
11 March 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

A precursor to the Thin Man series, starring William Powell as a detective (but without the very supplementary Myrna Loy). And this is directed by none other than Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca" and "Mildred Pierce"), and you can often tell, scenes characteristically complex with lots of people and foreground/background. As a whole the movie races along, to the point that the huge cast (all introduced with visual vignettes at the start) is confusing. But hang in there. because a third of the way through Powell kicks in full time.

There are few actors like William Powell in the history of American film. He is peculiar in charming ways, and makes no bones about it. He lacks any sense of what we might think of as cool or hardness--there's no Bogart in him, no Cary Grant of course, nothing but what a character actor might have. And he made it a virtue, visible even here. The rest of the cast is good or very good, with a few other recognizable faces, and it gels increasingly as you go until a series of dramatic whodunnit style conclusions wraps it all up.

Powell's detective, Philo Vance, was a snobby socialite, and the plots have a quality of private detective vs. police (which gets used in a lot of these kinds of series, of course). There are four movies with Powell playing the part (and many others with other actors in the role. This is the fourth, and best of them, the first going back to the dawn of sound, 1929. It's not as slick or warm (or sophisticated) as "The Thin Man" series, which is a high water mark of the effete detective, but it's terrific in its own way, and really well constructed. I'd not miss it.

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