14 user 1 critic

Calling Philo Vance (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 3 February 1940 (USA)
Despite an exclusive contract with the U.S. government, designer Archer Coe's design is being bid on by German, Japanese, and Italian agents - until he's murdered.


William Clemens


Tom Reed (screenplay), S.S. Van Dine (novel)


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: Passed Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

After socialite Lynn Llewwllen receives an anonymous threat, he is poisoned at his uncle's casino, and although he recovers, his wife is murdered by the same killer.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: Paul Lukas, Alison Skipworth, Donald Cook
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

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.

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone
Stars: Warren William, Margaret Lindsay, Lyle Talbot
Certificate: Passed Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Two people with ties to rich murdered socialite Lowe Hammle die from unusual suicides but Vance suspects hypnosis and foul play.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: Edmund Lowe, Virginia Bruce, Benita Hume
Certificate: Passed Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

When the body of a man nicknamed "Cock Robin" is found with an arrow in the heart on an archery range along with a chess bishop as a clue, Philo Vance investigates.

Directors: David Burton, Nick Grinde
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Leila Hyams, Roland Young
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Philo Vance, accompanied by his prize-losing Scottish terrier, investigates the locked-room murder of a prominent and much-hated collector whose broken Chinese vase provides an important clue.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

The body of an unknown woman turns up in a stolen car abandoned in a New York park, and the only clue the detectives on the case have to work from is the tattoo on her arm, and the fact ... See full summary »

Director: Edward Montagne
Stars: John Miles, Patricia Barry, Walter Kinsella
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Shady stockbroker and abusive husband Gerald Parker is found dead in the penguin pool of a NYC aquarium after being knocked cold by his wife's boyfriend.

Director: George Archainbaud
Stars: Edna May Oliver, Robert Armstrong, James Gleason
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In a Scottish sanitarium, a brilliant research psychiatrist works on a treatment for dementia precox. He falls for his altruistic female lab assistant and they begin a passionate tragic relationship.

Director: Irving Rapper
Stars: James Stephenson, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Donald Crisp
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An insurance company tasks Carter and Beeswax to Panama as cargo ships are mysteriously exploding and sending their valuable cargoes to the bottom with all hands.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Donald Meek, Joseph Schildkraut
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

LA ex-cop Vince Kane is a bail-bondsman who bails out the suspect of a securities bonds robbery but his client disappears, prompting Vince to investigate.

Director: Ted Tetzlaff
Stars: George Raft, Ella Raines, Pat O'Brien
Congo Maisie (1940)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Brooklyn showgirl Maisie gets stranded in the African jungle with a romantic doctor.

Director: H.C. Potter
Stars: Ann Sothern, John Carroll, Rita Johnson
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

At the end of each year, the extremely wealthy but odious Greene family gets together at the spooky old family castle to establish terms of a will, though they despise each other. This year... See full summary »

Director: Frank Tuttle
Stars: William Powell, Florence Eldridge, Ullrich Haupt


Complete credited cast:
James Stephenson ... Philo Vance
Margot Stevenson ... Hilda Lake
Henry O'Neill ... Markham
Edward Brophy ... Ryan
Sheila Bromley ... Doris
Ralph Forbes ... Tom McDonald
Donald Douglas ... Philip Wrede
Martin Kosleck ... Gamble
Jimmy Conlin Jimmy Conlin ... Dr. Doremus - Coroner (as Jimmy Conlon)
Edward Raquello ... Eduardo Grassi
Creighton Hale ... Du Bois - Fingerprint Man
Harry Strang ... Hennessey - Markham's Assistant
Richard Kipling Richard Kipling ... Archer Coe
Wedgwood Nowell ... Brisbane Coe
Bo Ling Bo Ling ... Ling Toy


Philo is in Vienna working for the US Government to see if Archer Coe is selling aircraft designs to foreign powers. He grabs the plans with Archer's signature, but is captured by police before he can escape. Deported he comes back to America and plans to confront Archer, but Archer is found dead in his locked bedroom with a gun in his hand. While it looks like a suicide, Vance knows better and the coroner finds that Archer has been shot, hit with a blunt instrument and stabbed - making suicide unlikely. But Vance is on the case and is looking to see if government secrets have been sold and who has murdered Coe. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »





English | German

Release Date:

3 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tres horas trágicas 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?


This film's earliest documented telecasts took place in Tucson Friday 5 October 1956 on KDWI (Channel 9) and in Albuquerque Friday 12 October 1956 on KOAT (Channel 7); it first aired in Bloomington IN Monday 5 November 1956 on WTTV (Channel 4), in Salt Lake City Saturday 17 November 1956 on KUTV (Channel 2), in San Francisco Friday 7 December 1956 on KPIX (Channel 5), and in Honolulu Friday 10 May 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13). See more »


Ralph Forbes is credited onscreen as "Tom MacDonald," but throughout the film, he is called Taylor MacDonald. See more »


Ryan: [as they are entering the front doo] By the way, Philo, how was the weiner schnitzel over there?
Philo Vance: Hmmm, mostly bread and water!
See more »


Follows The Kennel Murder Case (1933) See more »


An der schönen, blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube), Op.314
(1867) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Whistled by Edward Brophy
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Fair Entry in The Philo Vance Series
22 August 2005 | by krorieSee all my reviews

The Philo Vance murder mystery series was entertaining and worthwhile but had one serious problem, the actor playing the lead role of Philo Vance kept changing from movie to movie. This was not true of other successful series such as Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes and Chester Morris' Boston Blackie. By far the most competent actor in the role was the indomitable William Powell, who starred in not only the best one of the Philo Vance films but a movie classic "The Kennel Murder Case." Alas, he was too good and went on to bigger and better roles, in particular the Thin Man series. What we get with "Calling Philo Vance" is James Stephenson, who makes a pleasant enough Philo Vance but he is certainly no William Powell. On the other hand, the supporting cast is equal to and sometimes even better than the supporting cast in "The Kennel Murder Case." "Calling Philo Vance" is a reworking of the "Kennel Murder Case," updating the story to involve espionage (Hitler invaded Poland the year before this movie was released). Other than the spy angle and having Philo a government agent rather than a P.I. there is not much change. The story still involves the intriguing idea of having a murder committed in a sealed and locked room. A few of the scenes are shot verbatim from the original. So why watch this one if you can get hold of the original, which is a superior film? I'm a Philo Vance fan. So I enjoyed this one too.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed