While Oscar and Hildegarde are attending a Broadway show, a press agent is shot in an actress' dressing room and an actor is murdered onstage in full view of the audience. Oscar and Hildegarde are on the case.
When the body of Violet Feverel is discovered on the Central Park bridle path, Inspector Oscar Piper is about to declare her death accidental from a thrown horse, until his friend and amateur detective Hildegarde Withers locates the horse and discovers blood on the horse. The coroner deems it a murder when the cause of death is shown to be by a blunt instrument on the victim's head. The suspects include Violet's ex-husband, Don Gregg, who she jailed for nonpayment of alimony, but who was just released by a forged court order; Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet's stables and who had an argument with her that morning; and Eddie Fry, who had quarreled with Violet over his seeing her sister, Barbara Foley, and who was about to elope with Barbara. At Don's Long Island home, Hildegarde and Oscar meet his sickly father, Patrick, the caretaker, Chris Thomas, and his crippled son, Joey. After Patrick is murdered, Hildegarde snoops around and discovers clues which pinpoint the murderer, who is...Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The fourth film in RKO's Hildegarde Withers series was the first after Edna May Oliver stepped away from the part and was replaced by Helen Broderick for the first and only time. In the film a society woman is out riding her horse when she's thrown from it and then murdered. Detective Piper (James Gleason) thinks it's a simple case of her being killed by the fall but Withers comes across the scene and notices that the woman was murdered after the fall. The two team up to track down the usual suspects. MURDER ON A BRIDLE PATH isn't as bad as its reputation but at the same time there's no question that it's a major fall from the previous three movies. There's no doubt that Broderick isn't nearly as good as Edna May Oliver but she isn't too bad here. I thought she was decent for what was being asked as she has no problem playing the smart woman and she at least makes us believe she's a lot smarter than Piper for what that's worth. As usual Gleason is very good in his part as the rather slow Detective who is always one step behind the lady. While both actors do a fine job, the same can't be said with their comic timing and chemistry. I think what really hurts the movie is the fact that the two don't share the same spark as in the previous three films. The screenplay isn't the greatest thing either because there's never any clear case of who the killer is and when he's revealed it really seems like a stretch. As is the case in most weaker written mysteries, the police and Withers would have never found out had the killer not given himself away and of course breaking to the point where he tells everything. In the end this film is pretty much on par with the majority of "B" mysteries that were released throughout the decade but at the same time it also makes you appreciate the first three films for how special they were.
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