The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
Run Time: 73 min. | b/w

Director:  Michael Curtiz

Stars: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan

Genres: Mystery

A suspicious suicide brings Philo Vance to a Long Island dog show. He suspects murder, of course, and sets out to prove it in this solid mystery. A benchmark whodunit.

4 responses to “The Kennel Murder Case (1933)”

  1. IMDBReviewer says:

    For those who like their murder mysteries busy, this is definitely the one to see, as it is chock full of interesting and suspicious characters, most of them wealthy Long Island socialite types. As the star detective, William Powell is alternately starchy and inspired, behaving at times as if he and his suit went to the cleaners and got pressed together. Mary Astor is very lovely here.

    Powell had made a career out of playing the lead character, Philo Vance, in a series of movies made at a couple of studios over several years. In-between these films he developed into a somewhat offbeat romantic lead, at times even essaying gentleman gangster roles. Already middle-aged, he was stuck in somewhat of a career rut by the time this one came along. As with so many early talkie stars, it seemed that his time had come and gone, that he was fine for early Depression Prohibition-era films, but that with changing times he was perhaps too mature and dandyish to endure.

    The Kennel Murder Case, directed by the criminally neglected Michael Curtiz, is one of the last of the "old Powells", while the next year would herald in the first of the new ones, The Thin Man, the success of which would catapult its leading players into the Hollywood stratosphere. In Kennel we can see the movies still in a somewhat stiff, ritualized pattern, as the camera does not move much, with the acting, like the presentation, tending toward the theatrical. There’s no harm in this approach, though, which has its charms. It gives the movie a baroque quality.

  2. IMDBReviewer says:

    Why can’t this type of compact, entertaining mystery be filmed in the new century? It keeps the viewer thinking and guessing all the way. The cast is a great ensemble. William Powell exhibits true star quality. Who knows–perhaps he was rehearsing for his future as Nick Charles. He is a joy to watch. One also can see why Eugene Pallette made more than 200 films. He is a great supporting character actor and his excellent chemistry with Powell is fun to watch. Mary Astor does above average work in a not very meaty role. All other hands chip in to make this a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend 73 minutes. I suspect Michael Curtiz had a ball directing his one. Bravo!

  3. tfsadmin says:

    Talented detective Mr. Philo Vance (William Powell) cancels his overseas trip to investigate an apparently cut and dried case of suicide he has good reason to suspect is really something much more, a rather deliciously complex murder!

    As far as murder mystery films go, it just doesn't get any better than this one. Populated with suspicious characters, all connected to a dog show and all having very good reason to murder the apparent suicide victim Archer Coe, it's truly tough to figure this one out or wrap one's head around it but boy, does it proves fascinating to watch unfold before us. Even the cops, the coroner and the district attorney prove colorful, fleshed out characters adding a level of unexpected gritty realism to this one's proceedings and amping up its overall "fun" factor. I particularly enjoyed the comic scenes involving the coroner (played by Etienne Girardot), who is always it seems to him being rudely and untimely interrupted by the discovery of corpses or injured men during this one's running time. Also Eugene Palette's Detective Sgt. Heath provides welcome, often later delightfully humorous at his expense, critical commentary during Vance's investigation. I cannot think of any valid criticism to give this movie in fact except perhaps that it hasn't dated particularly well. Doesn't stop the movie from being just plain good fun viewing though. Watch and see if you can wrap your head around this one's mystery. Highly recommended you try!

  4. tfsadmin says:

    Philo Vance had many affinities with Bulldog Drummond… He was a gentleman with the kind of polish and elegance only usually associated with the British upper classes and he was also independently wealthy…

    But there were vital differences… Drummond was an adventurer, charming, gallant, lively… Vance could be pompous, slight1y dull and self-righteous… There was a hint of fundamental cruelty in his manner…

    "The Kennel Murder Case" is the most impressive of the 14 Vance films made between 1929 and 1947… The story of a murdered collector of Chinoiserie, it has all the ingredients of the classic private eye mystery – exotic setting in the blue nose Long Island Kennel Club, three killings for Vance to solve including a baffling "locked room murder," the key to the whole affair, and plenty of suspects…

    Usually, a detective story setting have proved too static and talkative to make convincing movies even though they work well enough on the printed page, but here Michael Curtiz’s direction and the fine editing give the film a pace and urgency that make it altogether different from similar films of its type…

    William Powell’s elegance and suavity made him the perfect Vance and although a year later he switched studios, he stayed in the same genre with the enormously successful and popular "The Thin Man" at MGM…

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