Kennel Murder Case, The (1933)

Kennel Murder Case, The (1933)

“If you knew Archer Coe, you’d know that suicide was almost a psychological impossibility for him!”

Detective Philo Vance (William Powell) tries to solve the mysterious murder of a wealthy man (Robert Barrat) with many enemies — including his niece (Mary Astor), his niece’s boyfriend (Paul Cavanaugh), his brother (Frank Conroy), his secretary (Frank Morgan), his occasional lover (Helen Vinson), his Chinese cook (James Lee), and an Italian art collector (Jack LaRue).


  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Mary Astor Films
  • Michael Curtiz Films
  • Murder Mystery
  • William Powell Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
This “fast-paced”, visually innovative whodunit by director Michael Curtiz is widely regarded as the “best entry in the [Philo] Vance mystery series”. William Powell — pre-Nick Charles of Thin Man fame — is “properly suave” as the urbane, impeccably dressed Vance, and Curtiz utilizes unusual camera angles and flashy editing to move things along. However, as Peary notes, the 75-minute film suffers from lack of both “a little romance” and a “sympathetic suspect”, leading the murder mystery to come across as academic rather than heartfelt. With that said, there’s still some fun to be had in watching Vance (debonair Powell is, naturally, well cast) smoothly uncovering one new clue after the other, while he drags the amazingly compliant local police force (embodied by beefy Eugene Pallette) along with him for the ride. You may or may not guess the culprit in the end.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Clever direction, camerawork, and editing by Curtiz, DP William Rees, and editor Harold McLernon

Must See?
No, but film fanatics will likely be curious to check it out once.


One thought on “Kennel Murder Case, The (1933)

  1. Not a must, though not a waste of time.

    I hope this isn’t a spoiler but I did guess the culprit early – it’s actually not that hard to do if you’re really paying attention. (Something very specific is said.) But for all the talk about how “clever” the culprit is, there certainly is a lot of sloppiness in the execution of murder. (That last is not a spoiler.)

    ‘TKMC’ is particularly “innovative” as it reaches its conclusion, so it’s good to hang in there for the last 10+ minutes especially. In the film’s added defense, it packs in quite a bit in a short period of time (73 min.). Part of why that is so is that there are so many suspects. (It’s certainly odd to hear a few characters continuing to put the emphasis on the second syllable of “suspects”.) When most of the main characters had reason to kill, time does fill and fly, doesn’t it?

    This quaint whodunit is full of familiar character actors of the period, so things are generally sturdy acting-wise – and the script is generally solid. Overall, it’s a ‘rainy afternoon’ kind of movie: a diverting-enough experience but not something to necessarily make a point of seeking out.

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