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Murder at the Vanities (1934)

Passed | | Music, Mystery, Romance | 18 May 1934 (USA)
A homicide detective with an eye for the ladies investigating a murder in Earl Carroll's Vanities allows the music review to continue during the investigation.


Mitchell Leisen


Carey Wilson (screenplay), Joseph Gollomb (screenplay) | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Carl Brisson ... Eric Lander
Victor McLaglen ... Bill Murdock
Jack Oakie ... Jack Ellery
Kitty Carlisle ... Ann Ware
Dorothy Stickney ... Norma Watson
Gertrude Michael ... Rita Ross
Jessie Ralph ... Mrs. Helene Smith
Charles Middleton ... Homer Boothby (as Charles B. Middleton)
Gail Patrick ... Sadie Evans
Donald Meek ... Dr. Saunders
Toby Wing ... Nancy
Duke Ellington ... Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington Orchestra ... Duke Ellington's Orchestra


Shortly before the curtain goes up the first time at the latest performance of Earl Carroll's Vanities, someone is attempting to injure the leading lady Ann Ware, who wants to marry leading man Eric Lander. Stage manager in charge Jack Ellery calls in his friend, policeman Bill Murdock, to help him investigate. Bill thinks Jack if offering to let him see the show from an unusual view point, after he forgot to get him tickets for the performance, but then they find the corpse of a murdered women. Bill suspects Eric of the crime, especially, after the second female lead Rita Ross told him she saw the women leaving from Eric's room. Then Rita is shot onstage with Eric's gun. Jack and Bill decide not to stop the show, but Bill preparing to arrest Eric. Is he on the right track ? Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


MURDER SET TO MUSIC! A new note in entertainment (Print Ad- Kyle News, ((Kyle, Texas)) 1 June 1934) See more »


Music | Mystery | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This is the film that contains the "Sweet Marijuana" song and dance number. It got past the censors because at the time the film was made, the drug was not illegal. Today most prints omit this production number altogether. See more »


A door to a dressing room is slammed, shattering a good portion of the mirror attached to the door. A moment later, when the door is opened, the breakage has changed so that part of the mirror is restored. See more »


Chorus girl: [Contemptuously to Rita] Listen, baby, blues singers like you are thicker than brunettes in Africa.
See more »


Live and Love Tonight
by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow
Sung by Carl Brisson and Kitty Carlisle
See more »

User Reviews

WONDERBAR amped to 11
4 June 2010 | by ptb-8See all my reviews

Thus sumptuous Paramount art deco musical is almost a definitive pre code extravaganza and is on per with WONDERBAR and FASHIONS OF 1934 and TOP HAT as the glittering perfection of code- cusp risqué showgirl and nightclub sophisticated sexiness. Made at Paramount in late 1933 and clearly designed to outshine the WB Busby Berkeley extravaganzas, this one does it with nude showgirls, drug references, weapons, a slinky killer, murder in the ceiling and dripping blood, and big stage show numbers all crammed over the orchestra pit on the opening night of a big Broadway show. I was reminded of almost every Busby Berkeley film but clearly on a lower budget with the difference being made up by having spectacular costumes. In color this film would be an enduring musical of its time. In gorgeous B&W it still rates but one can see how colorful the costumes are even in monochrome. One startling song SWEET MARIJUANA manages the unparalleled feat of including nudity drugs murder and blood all on screen during the tune. There is a hilarious and nutty island mermaid number and a fantastic and simple art deco staging of COCKTAILS FOR TWO. This film clearly influenced THE GREAT ZIEGFELD made at MGM in 1936.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

18 May 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder at the Vanities See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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