4.3/10
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27 user 8 critic

Murder by Television (1935)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 October 1935 (USA)
James Houghland, inventor of a new method by which television signals can be instantaneously sent anywhere in the world, refuses to sell the process to television companies, who then send ... See full summary »

Director:

Clifford Sanforth

Writers:

Joseph O'Donnell (screenplay), Clarence Hennecke (idea) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Arthur Perry / Edwin Perry
June Collyer ... June Houghland
Huntley Gordon ... Dr. Henry M. Scofield (as Huntly Gordon)
George Meeker ... Richard Grayson
Henry Mowbray Henry Mowbray ... Nelson - Chief of Police
Charles Hill Mailes ... Prof. James Houghland
Claire McDowell ... Mrs. Houghland
Hattie McDaniel ... Isabella - the Cook
Allen Jung ... Ah Ling - the Houseboy (as Allan Jung)
Charles K. French ... Donald M. Jordan
Larry Francis Larry Francis ... Mendoza
Henry Hall ... Hammond
Billy Sullivan Billy Sullivan ... Reardon - Watchman (as William 'Billy' Sullivan)
William H. Tooker William H. Tooker ... Allen (as William Tooker)
Edit

Storyline

James Houghland, inventor of a new method by which television signals can be instantaneously sent anywhere in the world, refuses to sell the process to television companies, who then send agents to acquire the invention any way they can. On the night of his initial broadcast Houghland is mysteriously murdered in the middle of his demonstration and it falls to Police Chief Nelson to determine who the murderer is from the many suspects present. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An IMPERIAL-CAMEO PRODUCTION (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 October 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Houghland Murder Case See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cameo Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the scenes showing television equipment, the filmmakers borrowed it from L.A.-area researchers who were working on experimental TV. The equipment they borrowed was worth $75,000 - over twice the $35,000 production budget for the film. See more »

Goofs

When Isabella (the cook) finds the body at the top of the stairs, she simply disappears into thin air. (This may be due to missing footage in the extant print, rather than an error by the original filmmakers.) See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hammond: Have you been holding that wire to the coast open?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Rumble Fish (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

I Had the Right Idea
Music and Lyrics by Oliver Wallace
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Great cure for insomnia...
11 August 2008 | by fibbermacSee all my reviews

There are only two reasons for people to rate this film higher than a five. They are either Bela Lugosi fanatics who are blinded by his star power, or they're pulling your leg.

In it's favor, this film has the following curiosities:

Bela Lugosi in a rare non-horror leading role.

Hattie McDaniel in an early screen appearance (although running around yelling "Lordy, Lordy" doesn't showcase her future greatness very well).

A curious 1935 vision of television that doesn't seem to need cameras at the point of origin and can act as a "death ray" carrier wave. I guess that makes this a science fiction story, of sorts.

And occasionally interesting story-telling by reshowing the same scene using different vantage points to add information withheld earlier in the film.

Working against this film is:

The poor print quality (both picture and sound)of existing copies. Insulting racial stereotyping. (As implied above.)

Ridiculously inaccurate scientific predictions about television. (As implied above.)

Undeveloped characters, giving the audience a "who cares" feeling when someone gets murdered.

And a general weakness of the writing, acting, and directing.

Being a Lugosi fan myself, it pains me to write negative reviews of some of his films. But the truth is, it pains me to watch some of his performances as well.

I'm giving this film three stars, based on the curiosities mentioned above. If I were to rate it any higher, I'd be pulling your leg.


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