Monday, May 27, 2024



The second film on Kino's PHILO VANCE COLLECTION Blu-ray is THE GREENE MURDER CASE, made in 1929. 

THE GREENE MURDER CASE was the third Vance novel written by S. S. Van Dine (I have not read this one). The film adaptation is a combination of an old dark house thriller and a serial killer case. The Greene family, forced to live in a large rambling manor due to the conditions of their patriarch's will, is being killed off one-by-one. Upper-class amateur sleuth Philo Vance takes an interest in the proceedings. 

THE GREENE MURDER CASE (directed by Frank Tuttle) is much more stylish and energetic than THE CANARY MURDER CASE. There's a lot more murders (and murder attempts), and there is more vitality to the camerawork and the editing. The identity of the killer is easy to figure out, mainly due to the fact that nearly all the members of the Greene family wind up dead, and there's only a couple left to choose from. The interiors (and exteriors) of the Greene mansion are very impressive, and the movie has a literally hanging on by the fingernails climax. 

William Powell appears more natural and relaxed than he did in THE CANARY MURDER CASE. Eugene Pallette also returns as Sergeant Heath. Jean Arthur also returns from the first Vance film, this time playing a different character. Arthur is the prim and somewhat looked-down-upon young daughter of the Greene clan, and not only does she get more screen time, she gets a far more challenging role. The actors playing the rest of the Greene family don't get much of a chance to make an impression, simply because they get killed off so quickly. Florence Eldridge (the future wife of Fredric March) does stand out as Jean Arthur's catty, sarcastic sister. Old Movie geeks will recognize Brandon Hurst as the Greene's butler. 

The visual and sound quality on THE GREENE MURDER CASE is excellent--it feels as if this movie was made later than 1929. Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw return for another well-done audio commentary. The duo discuss how much better overall the second Vance film is to the first, and why the character of Vance has not had the fame of other literary detectives in modern times. They also briefly talk about Jean Arthur's life and acting career. 

THE GREENE MURDER CASE is a very good early talkie mystery from Paramount. It's also quite vicious for its time, despite the fact that most of the killings take place off screen. The madness of the killer and the amount of deaths in this story makes it feel as if it could have been made decades later. There's one more film on this Vance set--THE BENSON MURDER CASE--and I'll be writing about that one soon. 


  1. My copy of the Philo Vance movies finally arrived, and I just now finished watching The Greene Murder Case and The Benson Murder Case. I also watched the beginning of The Canary Murder Case to see Louise Brooks, and I've seen this one before. All things considered, I was disappointed by this package. All three films seemed so static and boring, and even William Powell couldn't bring them to life for me. The only lively spark is Eugene Pallette, who manages to chew the scenery every chance he gets. I usually get into these pre-code flicks. Maybe the director was the problem. Music may have helped. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

    1. They are very creaky, I still haven't watched "The Benson Murder Case" yet. You can tell the cast & crews on them are still getting used to talkies.