The Kennel Murder Case

Movie Information

The 1920s and 30s were the high point of a certain kind of detective fiction — the puzzle plot mystery (often featuring an “impossible” locked room murder) built around a gentleman detective. These gentleman detectives were invariably wealthy, spent their spare time studying crime and indulging in the arts. They were well-dressed, well-spoken and invariably smarter than the police. No fictional detective fits the concept of the gentleman detective better than S.S. Van Dine’s fictional sleuth Philo Vance. And no one embodied the character onscreen better than — or even as well as — William Powell. It was Powell who kicked off the detective movie exploits with three early talkies at Paramount Pictures — The Canary Murder Case (1929), The Green Murder Case (1930) and The Benson Murder Case — but when Powell left the studio and moved over to Warner Bros., Paramount lost interest. MGM took a shot at Vance with The Bishop Murder Case (1930) in which Basil Rathbone tried the role, but neither Rathbone nor the film was a success. It wouldn’t be until 1933 that Warner Bros. revived the character with William Powell back in the role. In fact, the opening credits read, “William Powell returns as Phil Vance in The Kennel Murder Case.” And it was worth the wait because The Kennel Murder Case is far and away the best of the Philo Vance pictures and perhaps the finest example of this particular kind of mystery ever made. This excerpt was taken from a review by Ken Hanke, published on Oct. 16, 2012.
Genre: Mystery
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert McWade, Robert Barrat
Rated: NR

The Asheville Film Society will screen The Kennel Murder Case on Tuesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. at The Grail Moviehouse, hosted by Xpress movie critic Scott Douglas.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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