TWO CLASSIC DETECTIVES
THE KENNEL MURDER CASE starring William Powell - Before his success in the "Thin Man" films, William Powell starred as S.S. Van Dine's debonair sleuth, Philo Vance, in a series of well-made whodunits. Here Vance solves a deadly affair that takes place at a society dog club. With Mary Astor, Ralph Morgan; directed by Michael Curtiz.
One of the Coe brothers is found dead in his bedroom, locked from the inside, and the other brother is found the next morning dead in the downstairs closet. There is also the clue of a wounded Doberman Pinscher, a mysteriously broken piece of priceless Chinese porcelain, and a cast of suspicious family members, servants and associates. Philo Vance solves the case based on his knowledge of dog breeding, Chinese porcelain and the annals of remarkable antique crimes.
Many film historians (including William K. Everson, who pronounced it a "masterpiece" in the August 1984 issue of Films in Review) consider it one of the greatest screen adaptations of a Golden Age mystery novel, and rank it with the 1946 film Green for Danger.
EYES IN THE NIGHT -starring Edward Arnold - Edward Arnold made the first of his two screen appearances as Bayard Kendrick's blind detective Captain Duncan McLain in MGM's Eyes in the Night. Edward Arnold is quite good as the detective, using his imposing girth to good effect and letting that distinctive growl of a voice lend force to simple statements
The plot is set in motion by Norma Lawry (Ann Harding), whose stepdaughter Barbara (Donna Reed) has been keeping company with washed-up actor Paul Gerente (John Emery). Norma feels that Gerente, an ex-lover of hers, is a bad influence for Barbara, but the girl merely assumes that Norma wants Gerente all to herself. When the ageing actor is murdered, Barbara assumes that Norma committed the crime.
Rather than go to the police, Norma heads to her old friend Duncan McLain, but when the detective arrives at the scene of the murder, the body has disappeared. Detecting the odor of violets in the room, McLain uses this tiny clue to build a case against a gang of Nazi spies, headed by the Lawry's butler Hansen (Stanley Ridges), with whom the late Mr. Gerente had been collaborating.
Just knowing who did it isn't enough in this case, however: getting the drop on McLain and his associates, the villains hold the detective and Lawry prisoner until they are able to get their hands on a secret formula developed by Barbara's father (Reginald Denny). In true movie-serial fashion, it is McLain's faithful seeing-eye dog Friday (played by "himself") who saves the day.