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Palm Sunday with Philo Vance

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John Cucinotta

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Yesterday we held our usual family celebration of Palm Sunday.  In the evening, after everyone had gone home and I had finished the dishes, I sat down and decided to watch old films that I had on DVD but had never watched before.  Years ago when there were several active "gray market" vendors who posted on this Board, I bought a DVD of three old Philo Vance films made by PRC studio as the Vance series was coming to a close.  Last evening I had time to watch "Philo Vance's Secret Mission" and "Philo Vance's Gamble".  Both movies are low-productions and have no big names in the cast (although several of the cast members have small roles in more prominent mystery movies), but both were enjoyable mysteries.  I definitely recommend them as nice movies to view once or twice.  The third film in this set is "Philo Vance Returns", which has a different cast, and I will try to watch it this week.

Ed Kasprowicz

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The Kennel Murder Case and The Dragon Murder Case are so good that you want to see every possible remaining Vance movie, but, none of the others measures up to the ones I mentioned. The Casino Murder Case is also well done.

John Cucinotta

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On a different DVD that I bought years ago I have the Philo Vance films that feature William Powell in the lead.  I agree that these movies are top-notch mysteries.  My copy of the Canary Murder Case is somewhat blurry but watchable,  Since that is such an old movie there may not be any crisp copies out there.

Chris Ellis

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The Kennel Murder Case and The Dragon Murder Case are so good that you want to see every possible remaining Vance movie, but, none of the others measures up to the ones I mentioned. The Casino Murder Case is also well done.

I also do not mind the earlier Greene Murder Case with William Powell. A lot of overacting but I like the fantastic sets and such which remind me of earlier German expressionist silent films. Chris

John Cucinotta

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Last night I watched the last Philo Vance movie that I have on the disc of Vance films made by PRC Studios, called "Philo Vance Returns".  This movie is definitely the weakest of the three Vance productions by PRC.  The only "big name" in the cast is Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em in the "Wizard of Oz", and there is also a small part featuring Iris Adrian who played showgirl Wanda LaFern in the Chan movie "Sky Dragon".

The movie centers on the murders of a radio singer and her fiance, a man with several ex-wives and girlfriends.  There are additional murders as the movie progresses.  Philo Vance gets involved as a friend of the murdered man.  Vance is "aided" by the singer's manager, a bumbling man who speaks with a thick accent and is sometimes difficult to understand.  There is very little character development, and Vance only has shallow interviews with most of the suspects.  He suddenly solves the crime at the end with little evidence.  This is a very low-budget film, and I would recommend watching it only if you've seen all of the other Vance films and you just want to complete the series.