Saturday, February 24, 2024

Sat-mat too

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.


It was all in the how

William Powell's final outing as Philo Vance occurs in The Kennel Murder Case where the murder of a championship show dog leads to two more murders and one attempt of the human kind. It's all in the figuring out of how that leads to the who and why.

The Philo Vance murders by S.S. Van Dine were most popular at the time and the clever Mr. Van Dine figured out a way to sell his books one at a time to the highest studio bidder. This is why you see so many Philo Vances and so many studios putting them out. Had Bill Powell not gone on to greater fame with MGM as Nick Charles of the Thin Man series, he would have been known as the greatest of Philo Vances. 

It turns out that Powell had entered his little terrier Captain in the same contest where the murdered dog was entered and then another rival owner became the first murder victim. As usual Powell shows up Eugene Palette as Sergeant Heath whose biggest contribution to the proceedings was using his bulk to break down the locked from the inside door where the first murder victim was found.

I did say locked from the inside and it was an upper story so it was in figuring out the how. Powell has a lovely group of suspects, as extensive as what normally is in a Thin Man mystery. People like Paul Cavanaugh, Helen Vinson, Ralph Morgan, Mary Astor, fill their cast roles well.

Warner Brothers liked this version so much that in fact they remade it again in the Thirties with James Stephenson in his one and only outing as Philo Vance. It doesn't hold a candle to this one.

As this is the only Powell Philo Vance that is out on VHS or DVD by all means see this one or acquire it if you can.

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