Kennel Murder Case, The

93. THE KENNEL MURDER CASE (1933-usa). WITH William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Jack laRue. Directed by Michael Curtiz. This entertaining mystery was named as one of the three best detective movies of all time in William Everson’s definitive study. The detective in film, William Powell, supported by a colorful cast of character actors and canines, is superb in his fourth and final appearance as the suave sleuth Philo Vance. (A year later, Powell would begin his long run as Nick Charles in “The Thin Man” series.) This is a classically-constructed, ingenious “locked room” puzzle: a ruthless man, hated by enough people to fill a phone book, is found dead in his almost hermetically-sealed library, and although the police call it a clear case of suicide, the debonair detective is convinced it’s murder. With his typical wit, charm and intelligence, he methodically questions the gallery of suspects (the chief one of whom is himself found murdered!), painstakingly reconstructs the very complex crime, and arrives at the deÂlightfully unexpected conclusion. Despite its inevitable need for lots of explanatory dialogue, the film has is dazzingly rapid paceÑwith almost breathless transitions between scenesÑand the kinds of exciting visuals one would expect from director Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY). One of the rare mysÂtery movies that manages to keep us baffled without ever concealing important cluesÑand because we haven’t been cheated, the revelation al the end is simultaneously surprising and satisfying. 74 minutes. Crime Mystery Suspense