Review: ‘Murder at the Vanities’

Herein they mix up the elements of a musical show and a murder mystery, with effective comedy to flavor, and come out with 95 minutes of entertainment [based on the play by Earl Carroll and Rufus King] that should genuinely satisfy.

Herein they mix up the elements of a musical show and a murder mystery, with effective comedy to flavor, and come out with 95 minutes of entertainment [based on the play by Earl Carroll and Rufus King] that should genuinely satisfy.

Victor McLaglen is in charge of the investigation of a couple murders that tax his limited detective prescience. McLaglen shares with Jack Oakie the comedy burden and for each it’s a strike.

Picture serves to bring out Carl Brisson, Danish actor who was brought over by Paramount to get his baptism in this quasi-musical. In addition to having an ingratiating personality and photographing well, the foreign import sells his songs for good results.

Brisson has Kitty Carlisle opposite him, but she’s not one-half as important, more attention being directed to Brisson than anyone else. Together they do several numbers [lyrics and music by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow], the most effective being a seashore interlude in which the Earl Carroll girls as mermaids manipulate fans that simulate rolling waves.

Murders are well planted and cast logical suspicion in several directions. All of the action occurs backstage at what is represented as the Earl Carroll theatre (now the Casino), on opening night of a Carroll show. It’s a backstage musical but different.

Murder at the Vanities

Production

Paramount. Director Mitchell Leisen; Producer E. Lloyd Sheldon; Screenplay Carey Wilson, Joseph Gollomb, Sam Hellman; Camera Leo Tover

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1934. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Carl Brisson Victor McLaglen Jack Oakie Kitty Carlisle Gertrude Michael Gail Patrick
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