June 24th, 2020


Movie Critique – The Kennel Murder Case

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A plot requiring intelligence, wit to separate wheat from chaff, and charm to make the suspects talk - fits Philo Vance perfectly. 

The Kennel Murder Case is a 1933 American pre-Code mystery film based on the 1933 novel of the same name by S. S. Van Dine. It stars William Powell as Philo Vance, the debonair amateur sleuth, and Mary Astor as Hilda Lake in the lead roles. 

The plot resembles a locked room mystery where a man is found dead inside a locked room having been shot, struck with a blunt object and shot. The victim had many enemies including the butler, making it a cliché. Philo Vance not satisfied with the police deduction makes his own investigation into the crime. 

This is the first adaptation of S. S. Van Dine's Philo Vance novels by Warner Brothers. However, earlier movies were made by Paramount and later by Warner Brothers, Paramount and MGM. This film also marked the last appearance of William Powell as Philo Vance. This is considered as one of the greatest screen adaptations of a golden age mystery novel, and also the best of the Philo Vance movies. 

Philo Vance was first introduced in the 1925 book, The Benson Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine, a pseudonym used by American art critic Willard Huntington Wright. A total of 12 books were written with this fictional character solving cases in the 1920s and the 30s. Most of the novels have been adapted to the big screen and small screen as well. 

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