The Argyle Case (1929)

A multimillionaire is murdered, and his will leaves all his money to a beautiful young blonde. The murdered man's son thinks something is fishy, and a homicide cop sets out to find out who was behind the man's death. Complications ensue.


Howard Bretherton


Harriet Ford (play), Harvey J. O'Higgins (play) | 4 more credits »




Cast overview:
Thomas Meighan ... Alexander Kayton
H.B. Warner ... Hurley
Lila Lee ... Mary Morgan
John Darrow ... Bruce Argyle
Zasu Pitts ... Mrs. Wyatt
Bert Roach ... Joe
Wilbur Mack ... Sam
Douglas Gerrard ... Finley
Alona Marlowe Alona Marlowe ... Kitty
James Quinn James Quinn ... Skidd
Gladys Brockwell ... Mrs. Martin
Lew Harvey Lew Harvey


A multimillionaire is murdered, and his will leaves all his money to a beautiful young blonde. The murdered man's son thinks something is fishy, and a homicide cop sets out to find out who was behind the man's death. Complications ensue.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

lost film | based on play | See All (2) »


Catch the eerie thrills of scientific crime detection! (Print Ad-The Norwalk Hour,((Norwalk, Conn.)) 24 October 1929) See more »


Drama | Mystery







Release Date:

17 August 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fingeravtrycket See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reels #3241-3249 See more »


Version of The Argyle Case (1917) See more »

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User Reviews

'Argyle' earns its stripes.
17 January 2005 | by F Gwynplaine MacIntyreSee all my reviews

According to its opening credits, 'The Argyle Case' is based on a stage play ... but then, immediately after the main credits, a title card appears bearing a message with the signature of William J Burns, the deputy attorney-general who founded the FBI. According to this title card, 'The Argyle Case' is based on an actual murder case in the FBI's files. I'm inclined to believe the stage-play version, not the FBI version. This story is very stagey, and I couldn't believe it was based on a real murder case, FBI or otherwise ... especially as the FBI didn't exist yet when the play was originally written. Still, it's difficult to believe that the filmmakers would appropriate FBI boss Burns's name without his permission. So I believe that the Burns testimonial is authentic, which is not to say that it's accurate.

From this point, the movie starts promisingly. In the opening sequence, wealthy John Argyle (briefly played by Lew Harvey) is murdered. The murder sequence is imaginatively staged: we see and hear the crime occurring, yet the identity of the murderer is withheld from us in a plausible manner, using a subjective camera set-up that was later echoed (copied?) in the British film 'Green for Danger'.

After this intriguing start, the movie gets weirder and less plausible. Thomas Meighan gives a stolid performance as homicide investigator Alex Kayton. His assistants are fat Joe and plodding Sam. Whenever he gives them an order, they reply 'O.K., A.K.' This is the funniest gag in the movie, and a bit cheeky with it. The letters 'A.K.' are Kayton's initials, but they're also the abbreviation for a Yiddish epithet, 'alter kocker'. George S Kaufman ripped off this gag for his musical 'Of Thee I Sing', with the Supreme Court judges intoning 'We're the A.K.s who give the O.K.s'.

John Argyle's will and testament leave all his money to young Mary Morgan, played by the beautiful Lila Lee. This doesn't sit well with Argyle's son Bruce, played ineptly by John Darrow. Bert Roach is unpleasant, as usual. Also on hand is ZaSu Pitts as one of the suspects. This actress usually gets very wearisome very quickly, with her annoying fluttery gestures and quivery speech. Here, ZaSu manages to out-zasoo herself by talking a blue streak (or maybe an argyle streak) with that annoying voice of hers. Gladys Brockwell, an attractive woman who usually played harridans, is seen to good advantage here. Sadly, Brockwell died (from injuries in a road accident) at about the time this film was released. She could have had a very successful career in early talkies; her voice records well here, and she shows a firm technique for talking pictures.

SPOILER COMING. Of course, Alex Kayton solves the murder: if you're familiar with these actors from roles in other films, the cast list gives you a good idea of whodunnit. Mary Morgan inherits John Argyle's millions ... and then Kayton announces that he plans to marry her, *despite* her wealth. Hoo boy. If this movie could keep up the moody atmosphere of that opening scene, it would be a classic. As it stands, I'll rate it 7 out of 10.

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