Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Benson Murder Case (1930)

Routine entry in the "Philo Vance" series, with William Powell in his third turn as S.S. Van Dine's amateur detective investigating the murder of a ruthless stockbroker. It's a little unusual in that the murder doesn't take place until roughly halfway through the film, and as a result it takes a while to really get going.

This was the third and final of the Vance films produced by Paramount, before the series switched over to Warner Bros. Frank Tuttle's direction here is noticeably less fluid than in the previous two entries he helmed. The fine supporting cast includes series regulars Eugene Pallette as Sgt. Heath and E.H. Calvert as District Attorney Markham, and Natalie Moorhead, William "Stage" Boyd, Paul Lukas, Richard Tucker, and Mischa Auer. Overall, it is certainly a bit static and creaky, but Powell's typically suave and charming performance is enough to recommend it.

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