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The murders start with the body of Robin. He is found with a arrow through the heart, but Vance deduces that the body was placed and not found where he was killed. The note found dealing with the murder was part of a nursery rhyme and signed by 'Bishop'. The only witness may have been Mrs. Drukker and Adolph, but they are not talking. As the murders progress, each one is accompanied by a nursery rhyme. It is up to Philo Vance to unravel the clues and unmask the identity of the murderer 'Bishop'.Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Although modern sources often refer to this as a 1930 production, it was completed in 1929, and premiered in San Antonio, Texas on 31 December 1929, but not released nationally until early 1930. See more »
When Vance and fellow detectives investigate the body of Robin, who has been shot with an arrow, the angle of the arrow changes. Sometimes it's straight up out of the body, other times it's at almost a 45 degree angle. See more »
[to cleaning woman vacuuming in hall]
It's about time you had some respect for the hand of the law!
The hand of the law! The only thing I see around here is a lot of flat feet!
Is that so?
[She starts vacuuming again and his blustery mumbling is drowned out by the vacuum. He walks down the hall and pulls out the plug in order to have the last laugh]
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A passable murder mystery, but with pitiful comedy and lots of red herrings.
Basil Rathbone makes a good Philo Vance in this murder mystery involving nursery rhymes. It's a forerunner of his great portrayal of Sherlock Holmes later in his career. He even uses his powers of observation to deduce that the sergeant (James Donlan) wrote a check that afternoon, soon has a date with a woman, etc., much the same way Holmes did, continually astounding Dr. Watson. But the comedy Donlan provides - and he's the only comic relief in the film - is on an infantile level. When he sees Rathbone for the first time, he says "I've solved this case, Mr. Vance. It's a murder." The script is really less than lacking in the humor department. On the other hand, all the other characters do not behave as stupid, and are believable in their roles. I loved the interesting faces and characterizations of George F. Marion and Charles Quartermaine. And there is one lovely photographed scene when Leila Hyams is sitting at a desk with a triple mirror when a sinister hand opens the door. You see her terrified face from four different angles at once, and it's a stunning effect.
This is the type of mystery that is virtually impossible to figure out. You have to go with the flow and watch the events unfold until the end when they are explained. There are lots of red herrings along the way, so I found myself switching from one suspect to another as the probable murderer. It was fun.
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