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The Dragon Murder Case (1934)

Passed | | Mystery | 25 August 1934 (USA)
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.


S.S. Van Dine (by), F. Hugh Herbert (screen play) | 2 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Warren William ... Philo Vance
Margaret Lindsay ... Bernice
Lyle Talbot ... Dale Leland
Eugene Pallette ... Sgt. Heath
Helen Lowell ... Mrs. Stamm
Robert McWade ... Markham
Robert Barrat ... Rudolph Stamm
Dorothy Tree ... Ruby Steele
George E. Stone ... Ken Tatum
Etienne Girardot ... Dr. Doremus
George Meeker ... Monty Montague
Robert Warwick ... Dr. Halliday
William B. Davidson ... Greeff (as William Davidson)
Arthur Aylesworth ... Trainor - Stamm's Butler
Charles C. Wilson ... Detective Hennessey (as Charles Wilson)


Wonderful idea to give a party with people who dislike each other. Late at night, everyone decides to go into the pool, except Stamm, who is drunk. Montague dives in as does Greeff and Leland, but only Greeff and Leland come out. Montague is no where to be found so Leland suspects foul play and calls the cops. Luckily, Philo is with the D.A. and comes along, but they do not find Montague. When they drain the pool the next day, they find nothing except what looks like dragon prints. Philo has his suspicions and tries to piece the clues together to find out what has happened. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE GHOST OF A MONSTER- A Vanished Man...Women in Distress...and Philo Vance grappling with an amazing mystery! (Print Ad-Philadelphia Inquirer, ((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 1 September 1934) See more »




Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Tropical fish were not as yet popular in Southern California, but they were called for in the script as one of the film's most important sets was a solarium filled with fish tanks, most remarkably, Siamese fighting fish. Pet stores did not stock them as there was no demand. Then an advanced collector located in the San Fernando Valley agreed to have his collection rented. The appearance of tropical fish in "The Dragon Murder Case" was the spark that boosted tropical fish sales nationwide. See more »


After Heath puts his hands in his pockets in close-up the next master cut shows his hands out of the pockets and the succeeding one shows him with hands back in them. See more »


Sergeant Ernest Heath: [Annoyed that duty calls him away from his Turkish bath] A man can't even perspire in peace around here!
See more »


Follows The Canary Murder Case (1929) See more »


Without That Certain Thing
(1933) (uncredited)
Written by Max Nesbitt and Harry Nesbitt
Played during the first scene in the house
See more »

User Reviews

A murky pool of mystery
27 April 2013 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This is the seventh Philo Vance film, the first after the retirement of William Powell from the lead role, and the first and only one starring Warren William as Vance. William is very insouciant and droll, more so than Powell was. (Powell had not yet fully found himself, as he had not become the future Powell of the Thin Man films. But then, he had not found his Loy yet either, with whom he was later to create his ALL-LOY of magic, fusing his silver with her gold.) William also has greater warmth and manages a far better rapport with Eugene Palette as the idiotic Sergeant Heath. When Palette keeps boasting of 'my knowledge of criminality', William genuinely grins sympathetically and teases him very gently like a friend. This works very well, since in previous films, Palette had been floundering around like a stranded fish and over-acting to an embarrassing extent, and Powell never engaged with him. On the other hand, this film lacks the effectiveness of the coroner's grumbling except with exasperation. In the previous film (THE KENNEL MURDER CASE, 1933, see my review) we saw him (played by Etienne Girardot, who despite his French name was born in London and in his films is 'as American as apple pie') being interrupted at his meals and rushing off to examine bodies, but this time that standing joke is taken for granted, no screen time is given actually to showing his frustrations, which are merely referred to in occasional lines of dialogue, and hence that comic sub-plot does not work nearly as well. The story line of this film is however a superior and unusually mysterious one. It concerns a sinister and mysterious pool behind a large house which they call 'the Dragon Pool'. People swim in it all the time, treating it as a swimming pool, but it is a natural feature, not an excavated pool, and it has bizarre features. It links to extended sink holes beyond, and is said to contain a mysterious aquatic dragon who comes out at night and occasionally eats people who dare to swim after dark. This is said to be an ancient Indian legend, and the pool was reputed to have been regarded by the Indians with awe and fear. The film concerns the disappearance and presumed murder of one of the characters who dove into the pool one evening and never reappeared. The pool is drained but nothing is found. An eccentric rich man lives in the house, whose sitting room is full of identical fish tanks (a low budget prevented these from being properly effective, and they look cheap and unconvincing) which contain rare and exotic fish. There are several scenes where the man and his visitors watch 'Japanese fighting fish' killing one another in tanks. That certainly sets a sinister tone at the very beginning of the film. This is definitely a superior Vance film, and the story is so unusual that it could be remade as a very effective modern film if the right people realized its possibilities.

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Release Date:

25 August 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Den hævnende drage See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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