4. The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
William Powell (again) stars here as Philo Vance, S.S. Van Dine's bon-vivant detective, investigating the seemingly impossible murder of Archer Coe. Indeed, to watch The Kennel Murder Case now is an interesting proposition. Although directed by Michael Curtiz (The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Casablanca) it is surprisingly cerebral for a 30's thriller. The plot is so intricate, and its solution so complex, that you could be forgiven for losing track as the film goes on, and yet the film is remarkably efficient in doling out its secrets. It even teaches you how to commit a locked-door murder.
It's talky, there's no doubt, and it looks stagey, but only because other films of its ilk have given birth to preconceptions about mystery movies of the 30's. There's not much creeping and chasing, but make no mistake, The Kennel Murder Case demands your attention. It wants you to follow the clues yourself. Indeed, it lays them plainly in front of you and still defies you to solve the crime. And when you don't, you'll kick yourself.
Dr. Doremus: (Referring to the corpse) "There couldn't have been much of a struggle. His hair isn't even mussed"
Heath: "Maybe someone slugged him, then combed his hair?"