Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


cop vs private eye: Eddie Dunn and William Wright
PHILO VANCE RETURNS (1947). Director: William Beaudine. 

"Mrs. Simns is a neurotic -- an advanced case."

Larry Blendon (Damian O'Flynn) has already had four wives and a girlfriend, but he is smitten again when he meets singer Virginia Berneaux (Ramsay Ames). Unfortunately, Virginia is shot to death not long after being introduced to Larry's grandmother, Stella (Clara Blandick), then Larry himself is found dead. Larry's friend, detective Philo Vance (William Wright) teams up with Virginia's former manager, Alexis Karnoff (Leon Belasco), to look up these former wives -- and the fan dancer Choo Choo (Iris Adrian) -- all of whom were unaccountably mentioned in Larry's will (what, no divorce settlements?). There are more murders, usually involving women who put on a lipstick that's been poisoned. Frank Wilcox [The Devils Mask] is lawyer George Hullman, and Eddie Dunn [A Fig Leaf for Eve] is police lieutenant Mullard, who often finds Vance underfoot and doesn't like it. This one had possibilities in its characters and plot, but it's a minor PRC (Producer's Releasing Corporation) production, which puts it on an even lower level than Monogram. Still, Wright [Reveille with Beverly] is okay as Vance, and most of the performances are at least competent. Albert Glasser did the score.   

Verdict: Standard series mystery with some interesting elements. **


Neil A Russell said...

I never realized there were any more Vance movies after the William Powell/Eugene Pallette series in the 20s.
Too bad all but one of those were silents, they rarely if ever get a showing past the "Kennel Murder Case" from 1929 and then the whole thing was overshadowed by Powell and Myrna Loy in the "Thin Man" series a few years later.

William said...

Now hold on, because this is confusing: I checked on for "Philo Vance" and discovered there were a whole slew of Philo Vance movies between the 1929 films and the ones with Alan Curtis/William Wright. Powell did "The Greene Murder" case and a couple of others ("Canary; Benson") and even "Paramount on Parade"; Warren William (Perry Mason; the Lone Wolf) played Vance in "The Gracie Allen Murder Case." Edmund Lowe. Paul Lukas, Basil Rathbone, and even Wilfrid Hyde-White and others also played Vance. It seems everyone played Philo Vance including Soupy Sales (no, wait, that was Philo Kvetch!)

Now, of course, I have to track down each and every one of these for a special Philo Vance week -- or not, LOL!

Neil A Russell said...

I've apparently been remiss in my Vance film history! LOL
Actually I didn't realize "Benson" and "Greene" were talkies, they get short shrift too from the movie outlets. And surprise, "Kennel" was later than I thought.
Mostly, since I'm a big Powell fan, I didn't dig too deeply to find out if anyone else handled the role.
I'm especially interested in the "Gracie Allen Murder Case" as it's one I've wanted to see for some time anyway.
I've got a lot of movie detective work to do too!
And since we're talking about Soupy Sales (how did THAT get into this conversation), I want to look for a particularly weird movie he made called "Birds Do It" that he made with Arthur O'Connell in the 1960s where he was a NASA janitor.
And they say you can get anything put on film these days!
As usual, thanks for the great info!!

William said...

And thank you, Neil!

Soupy Sales did a Philo Vance spoof called Philo Kvetch in the sixties. I think he was the one who (jokingly) told kids to send him money and got in trouble.

I've always wanted to see "Gracie Allen Murder Case" also, and now I have to see "Birds Do It." First I check the library -- because you never know what's on DVD these days -- then the Internet Archive for old stuff, then youtube, then if I absolutely, positively must buy something I'll go to amazon or ebay.

Interesting to see if we can find either of these movies!