Tuesday, May 9, 2023

William Powell is Philo Vance in "The Kennel Murder Case"

The Kennel Murder Case (1933) is an American pre-Code murder-mystery film directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring William Powell and Mary Astor. Powell plays detective Philo Vance, a sophisticated sleuth, one year before he would play another sophisticated sleuth in The Thin Man. The supporting cast includes, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Etienne Girardot, and Helen Vinson.

Philo Vance’s dog is entered into the Long Island Kennel Club’s dog show comes up short—he doesn’t make it to the finals. This disappoints fellow competitor Archer Coe (Robert Barrat) who was hoping to celebrate a victory over Vance. The next day, Coe is found dead, locked inside his bedroom.

What or who killed Coe? Was it suicide or murder? Philo Vance is determined to find out.

The Kennel Murder Case trivia

  • Asta, the dog in The Thin Man series has an uncredited role as a terrier in a cage in the Kennel Club scene.
  • This was Powell’s last time playing Philo Vance. He would move from Warner Bros. to M-G-M the next year.
  • Philo Vance movies were made at Paramount, Warner Bros., and M-G-M.
  • The watch the movie on YouTube, click the link below.


To join the discussion on May 15, 2023, 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

To watch the movie on YouTube, click on the link below.

Discussion questions

  1. Do you see any similarities between Powell’s characterization of Philo Vance and Nick Charles?
  2. Any differences between Philo Vance and Nick Charles?
  3. What did you think of Mary Astor’s characterization?
  4. Do you think Powell an Astor had good screen chemistry?
  5. Is murder-mystery the best way to describe this film? Would you categorize it another way?
  6. Did you have a favorite character actor?


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing this one -- I'm a first-timer. What a cast! As a rule, I don't lean toward murder mysteries (I just saw The Thin Man for the first time a few days ago), but you can't go wrong with Powell, Astor, and Michael Curtiz! (Geez, what DIDN'T that guy direct???)

  2. It was interesting to see Powell play a detective a year before he went over to MGM to play Nick Charles. Yes, Curtiz is probably the most underappreciated director from Hollywood's Golden Age. Most people know "Casablanca" but they don't have a clue who Michael Curtiz is.


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