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The Firebird (1934)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Romance | 3 November 1934 (USA)
Herman Brandt, a handsome but overly conceited actor, lives in the same apartment building in Vienna as Carola and John Pointer and their 18-year-old daughter Mariette. One day, as Carola ... See full summary »


William Dieterle


Charles Kenyon (screenplay), Lajos Zilahy (play) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Verree Teasdale ... Carola Pointer
Ricardo Cortez ... Herman Brandt
Lionel Atwill ... John Pointer
Anita Louise ... Mariette Pointer
C. Aubrey Smith ... Police Inspector Miller
Dorothy Tree ... Mrs. Jolan Brandt
Helen Trenholme Helen Trenholme ... Mlle. Josephine Mousquet - the Governess
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Emile - Brandt's Valet
Robert Barrat ... Halasz - the Apartment House Manager
Hal K. Dawson Hal K. Dawson ... Assistant Stage Manager
Russell Hicks ... Mr. Beyer - the Stage Manager
Spencer Charters ... Max Bauer - the Porter
Etienne Girardot ... Prof. Peterson
Florence Fair Florence Fair ... Thelma - the Pointers' Maid
Nan Grey ... Alice von Attem (as Nan Gray)


Herman Brandt, a handsome but overly conceited actor, lives in the same apartment building in Vienna as Carola and John Pointer and their 18-year-old daughter Mariette. One day, as Carola leaves to walk her dog, Brandt sides up to her and proposes she "visit" him at his apartment after everyone has gone to bed. Shocked and offended at his brazenness, she complains about him to the building manager, who orders Brandt to leave. He refuses, so the Pointers decide that they will move out instead. While they're packing, the police show up at their apartment with some bad news--Brandt has been found murdered, shot in the head, and since they were known to have quarreled with him, they are suspects. However, Inspector Muller, the detective investigating the murder, discovers that there is more to this case than meets the eye. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery | Romance








Release Date:

3 November 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Firebird 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?


The original play by Lajos Zilahy opened in Budapest, Hungary, on 25 February 1932. Jeffrey Dell's English-language adaptation opened in New York City on 21 November 1932 and had 42 performances. See more »


The Firebird Suite
(1919) (uncredited)
Music by Igor Stravinsky
Arranged by Bernhard Kaun
Excerpts played during the opening credits and as background music
Played on a record several times
See more »

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User Reviews

Formulaic murder mystery is a small polished gem.
24 August 2010 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

The Firebird is a typical thirties whodunit that turns out to be a surprising overachiever as cast and crew put on a highly impressive display of collective film craftsmanship. Rather than just go through the motions with the standard stock characters reciting their lines director William Dieterle embellishes the proceedings with both comic and suspenseful incidentals, character nuance and a pace that only flags occasionally as he keeps the audience off balance with a myriad of suspects moving about the luxury apartment complex like characters in a Feydeau farce.

Herman Brandt, a popular stage actor begins to pursue a politician's wife who rebuffs his brazen advances but rather than make a scene and bring scandal to her politician husband they decide to move out. When the smarmy Brandt is murdered in his apartment suspects abound.

The Firebird's scenario is standard Chan, Moto, Saint plot line that quickly rises to another level through Dieterle's energetic rhythm of cutting and character idiosyncrasies that flood scenes with rich detail and engrossing composition by way of Ernest Haller's fine camera work and Anton Grot's beautifully lit, lush but unpretentious sets. Ralph Dawson's editing perfectly accents the tempo by seamlessly melding it to the physical action of exits and entrances.

Unhampered by a big star Firebird's cast is nearly pitch perfect in type and creating ambiguity. Dieterle is not content to have the actor's stand around with gaping mouths and side glances as the plot unwinds. Whether it's the small roll of the concierge, the governess, valet or tenant Dieterle infuses them with an offbeat individuality that results in both sustaining suspense and delivering some sharp gallows humor. C.Aubrey Smith's police inspector appears noble but employs devious method. His excellency played by Lionel Atwill is both sensitive and a book burner. Her excellency (Veree Teasdale) is also a traditionalist snob but ready willing and able to make the ultimate sacrifice.

While the melodrama may get a little thick at times The Firebird is a run of the mill mystery but its execution in terms of form and the comically provocative shots it takes at the class system, theatre people, cops and celebrity make it a diamond (albeit small carat) in the rough.

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