Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, June 17, 2024


Ogden Nash may not have been far off the mark when he wrote, "Philo Vance needs a kick in the pants."  And Raymond Chandler wrote that Vance was "the most asinine character in detective fiction."  The monocle wearing, know everything, supercilious Vance was the very popular detective in a series of novels by S. S. van Dine, marking a transition in the detective story to the (almost) modern era.  (The early Ellery Queen, for instance, was a Vance clone.)  Vance appeared in twelve novels; towards the end, his popularity began to fade as most mature works and more mature characters began to appear.

Vance appeared in fifteen films between 1929 and 1947.  Four of the first five films starred William Powel; the third film, The Bishop Murder Case, featured Basil Rathbone in the leading role.

A man nicknamed "Cock Robin" is found with an arrow in his heart at an archery range.  Next to the body is a chess piece, a bishop.  More murders follow, each accompanied by a nursery rhyme.  It's up to Philo Vance to unravel the mystery.

Also staring Leila Hyams and Roland Young.  Look closely and you may spot noted screenwriter (Dark Passage, The Petrified Forest, An Affair to Remember) and film director (Destination Tokyo, Broken Arrow, 3:10 to Yuma) Delmer Daves in a minor acting role.

Scripted by Lenore J, Coffee and directed by David Burton (stage direction) and Nick Grinde (screen direction).

Enjoy matching wits with one of the most irritating detectives in history.

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