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has been made aware of his pompousness. He is usefully partnered with a young Rosalind Russell as a mystery fan who interrupts him whenever he threatens to speechify (“Skip it!”). The comedy is bumped-up by including Ted Healy as Heath and adding Eric Blore as Vance’s funny butler. The self- awareness quotient climbs too, with lines like “But, Mother! He isn’t an ordinary detective—he’s a gentle- man!” Vance receives a note warning that socialite Lynn Llewellyn (THE MAD GENIUS’ Donald Cook) will die if he continues to gamble, but doesn’t inter- vene in time to prevent Llewellyn’s poisoning in a casino—though the victim recovers and his wife (CHARLIE CHAN ON BROADWAY’s Louise Henry) dies in his stead.


Given that Wright’s books supposedly offer an insiders’ view of high society, it’s notable that, out- side of Vance and the odd likeable heiress, he de- picts wealthy people as the murderous scum of the Earth. Even innocent parties seethe with resentments (“If I hadn’t given up my career to marry your pre- cious son, I’d be a star by now!”) and tyrannical parents are a frequent stereotype. Here, Alison Skipworth (who played the Gutman role in SATAN MET A LADY) is almost the evil sister of Margaret Dumont, wrecking everyone’s lives through snob- bery with intimidation. Also around are Arthur Byron (THE MUMMY), Isabel Jewell (THE LEOPARD MAN),


Louise Fazenda (THE TERROR), Leo G.Carroll (TA- RANTULA) and Leslie Fenton (F.P.1), with Purnell B. Pratt (A SHRIEK IN THE NIGHT) and Charles Sellon (BULLDOG DRUMMOND) as Markham and Doremus and uncredited bits for Keye Luke and William Demarest. An interesting extra is the theat- rical trailer, which includes a specially-shot skit with Lukas and Healy in character setting up the film. Marin (A STUDY IN SCARLET, INVISIBLE


AGENT) stayed on for THE GARDEN MURDER CASE, which reverts to B-length and has former Chandu Edmund Lowe as a breezier, more charm- ing Vance. Steps were consciously taken to make the character less off-putting, but stripping him of his particular faults tends to make him just another


Saint-Falcon-Lone Wolf-Drummond-type gentle- man adventurer. Again, Vance gets a sidekick-love


interest (KONGO’s Virginia Bruce)—which tips him into Nick and Nora territory. Nat Pendleton is the dimmest Heath yet (a running gag has this tough guy calling other men “dear” and “sweetheart”) and Grant Mitchell is the blandest Markham, but Girardot returns as the peppery Doremus. This case begins with distracted jockey Floyd Garden (BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN’s Douglas Walton) predicting his own death and breaking his neck in a racetrack tumble, then gets complicated when yet another odious millionaire (Gene Lockhart) is murdered in a


Paul Lukas (with the boutonniere) makes a more staid Philo Vance as Allison Skipworth holds court in THE CASINO MURDER CASE.


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