The Kennel Murder Case


Year 1933

William Powell as  Philo Vance
Mary Astor as Hilda Lake
Eugene Pallette   as Sgt. Ernest Heath  
 
Director - Michael Curtiz
Screenwriters - Robert N. Lee
  - Peter Milne

When it comes to William Powell, this movie has everything except Myrna Loy. If you don't know what I'm talking about and you like a glib murder mystery, then you might really enjoy this. Here, Powell plays Philo Vance. But Philo isn't the only detective William Powell played. In fact, he's more famous as Nick Charles, the Thin Man. In that series of private detective movies, Myrna Loy played his wife Nora Charles. Some wired hair fox terrier played Asta their pooch. Even the worst of "The Thin Man" series is better by far than most other cheeky crime solver films.

Which brings us to The Kennel Murder Case. It's formulaic. A friend of famous sleuth and man about town Philo Vance gets bumped off. After chasing a couple of false leads, the sleuth wise cracks his way to solving the crime. The police assist him and, with all suspects gathered in one room (this is a must), he guilts the criminal into giving himself/herself away.

Don't expect anything more than this. Don't expect some world weary Philip Marlowe to trudge through to the bitter end. Expect some society darling Philo Vance to cavort his way into your heart.

And no one did that better than William Powell. I've never seen a movie with him in it that didn't make me feel good inside just watching the consumate actor work. Was he acting or was it just William Powell being William Powell? It didn't matter.

Take this movie. A man no one likes is killed. Philo enters and not only solves the crime but becomes judge and jury. "Oh? You killed him? Nevermind. Get on with your life because I like you." The police applaud.

Far fetched? Yes. A fairy tale sort of world? You bet. Entertaining fluff? Indubitoubly.

There are gripes with this movie. Out of the blue Philo has a scale model of the crime scene conjured up. A what? Did he do this in one night? I'll bet he even included the cracks in the sidewalk, that clever Philo Vance.

And the explanation for the murder would make for an episode of CSI or Quincy or one of those lame made-for-TV fantasy crime shows instead of a feature film. (I watched one episode of CSI and they tried to pawn off the chemical forumula of sulfuric acid as the chemical formula of trinitrotoluene. You know, TNT. Nitroglycerine? I never watched another episode.)

The Kennel Murder Case, having at least a physically possible solution, even if it is fantastically improbable, is then better than CSI. Don't let the high odds of the solution ever occurring stop you from enjoying this moldy olie. The formula is boilerplate solid.

No profanity, nudity, or blasphemy. Some sexual innuendo, but it's light.


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