Tuesday, October 14, 2003


A B-movie remake of 1933's THE KENNEL MURDER CASE with the addition of wartime spies. The nifty opening sequence, set in Vienna, seems to promise an atmospheric spy thriller, but after the first ten minutes, the movie settles down to a more typical B-budget locked-room mystery. Philo Vance (James Stephenson) has been overseas trying to find out if American aircraft secrets are being sold to foreign governments, but he is caught and deported. Back in the U. S., the man with the aircraft secrets is murdered, apparently while locked in his windowless room. Vance investigates, and more murder and mayhem occur. Margot Stevenson is Hilda, a relative of the dead man. A dissipated looking Ralph Forbes and the sinister looking Martin Kosleck are suspects. There is a dog named Baron Munchausen and Vance has a terrier named McTavish who acts a lot like Lassie. The scenes where Vance is working out what happened, shot from the point of view of the killer, are well done, but overall the movie doesn't rise above its budget. Edward Brophy is OK as the requisite bumbling cop, but Margot Stevenson is terrible; she went on to do a few more movies in 1940, then basically left the business. James Stephenson, so good as Bette Davis' lawyer in THE LETTER, was fine in the title role, but his untimely death the next year halted any plans for a series.

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