Murder on a Honeymoon


1h 14m 1935
Murder on a Honeymoon

Brief Synopsis

A schoolteacher jumps into detective mode when a fellow airplane passenger gets sick and dies.

Film Details

Also Known As
Puzzle of the Pepper Tree
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Feb 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Santa Catalina Island, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree by Stuart Palmer (New York, 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

While flying to Santa Catalina Island, schoolteacher and amateur detective Hildegarde Withers witnesses the sudden death of fellow passenger Roswell T. Forrest. Although Britt, the Catalina police chief, insists that Forrest died of a heart attack, Hildegarde is confident that Forrest was murdered and wires her friend, Inspector Oscar Piper, in New York City. There, Oscar learns that Forrest was to be a state's witness against a gang of mobsters, and that a mobster named McArthur was offering $10,000 for Forrest's death. Convinced now that Forrest was murdered, Britt begins to question the plane passengers, which include Joseph B. Tate, a motion picture director, would-be actress Phyllis La Font, newlyweds Kay and Marvin Deving, and Captain Beegle, a retired rumrunner. In front of the suspects, Hildegarde theorizes that Forrest was poisoned and establishes that several of the witnesses had the opportunity to kill him. Soon after, Oscar arrives and discovers that Forrest's body has been stolen from the police station. Sure that the killer is always the least likely suspect, Oscar accuses the Devings of the crime until Hildegarde informs him that Tate, who had offered Forrest a drink from his whiskey flask, had been covering up the fact that his flask had a secret compartment. In addition, Kay reveals the next day that she saw the plane's pilots apparently stealing Forrest's body from the station. After Oscar unsuccessfully grills the pilots and Tate, Hildegarde discovers that Arthur T. Mack, a fellow hotel guest, has left an envelope containing $10,000 in a post office box and assumes that Arthur T. Mack is an alias for McArthur. Then, Marvin is shot and killed in the Avalon casino as he is about to reveal information about Forrest. Eventually, Oscar and Hildegarde determine that the man who called himself Forrest actually was named Kelsey, and that the real Forrest, who has arrived on the island, hired Kelsey to impersonate him. After Hildegarde finds a pack of poisoned cigarettes and confronts Mack about the murder, Mack is killed. On a hunch, Hildegarde takes Oscar to see Kay and offers her a cigarette from the poisoned pack. Kay nervously turns down the cigarette and then draws a gun on Hildegarde. Overcome by Oscar, Kay confesses that Marvin had slipped Kelsey a poison cigarette on the plane, then was murdered by Mack, whose crime was avenged by Kay.

Film Details

Also Known As
Puzzle of the Pepper Tree
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Feb 22, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Santa Catalina Island, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree by Stuart Palmer (New York, 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Murder On A Honeymoon


This delightful RKO whodunit marked the last time actress Edna Mae Oliver would play Manhattan schoolteacher turned amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers. In Murder on a Honeymoon (1935), the persnickety spinster with a penchant for detection is enjoying a well-earned holiday on Catalina Island (RKO actually shelled out for location photography, giving the third film in the studio's Hildegarde Withers series a luxurious tropical air, a nice break from the claustrophobic confines of The Penguin Pool Murder [1933] and Murder on the Blackboard [1934]) when the suspicious death of one of her fellow vacationers pulls her into surrounding mystery. In Stuart Palmer's 1933 source novel, The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree, Miss Withers had to get along without the aid of her faithful (if perpetually vexed) police inspector amanuensis Oscar Piper but for the film adaptation screenwriters Seton I. Miller and Robert Benchley righted that injustice by trucking in Edna Mae Oliver's series costar James Gleason early on. The barbs fly as fast as the accusations in Murder on a Honeymoon, after which Oliver left RKO for work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For the next series entry, Murder on a Bridle Path (1936), the character would be played by Helen Broderick, who bequeathed the role to Zasu Pitts for the last two films in the franchise, The Plot Thickens (1936) and Forty Naughty Girls (1940).

By Richard Harland Smith
Murder On A Honeymoon

Murder On A Honeymoon

This delightful RKO whodunit marked the last time actress Edna Mae Oliver would play Manhattan schoolteacher turned amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers. In Murder on a Honeymoon (1935), the persnickety spinster with a penchant for detection is enjoying a well-earned holiday on Catalina Island (RKO actually shelled out for location photography, giving the third film in the studio's Hildegarde Withers series a luxurious tropical air, a nice break from the claustrophobic confines of The Penguin Pool Murder [1933] and Murder on the Blackboard [1934]) when the suspicious death of one of her fellow vacationers pulls her into surrounding mystery. In Stuart Palmer's 1933 source novel, The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree, Miss Withers had to get along without the aid of her faithful (if perpetually vexed) police inspector amanuensis Oscar Piper but for the film adaptation screenwriters Seton I. Miller and Robert Benchley righted that injustice by trucking in Edna Mae Oliver's series costar James Gleason early on. The barbs fly as fast as the accusations in Murder on a Honeymoon, after which Oliver left RKO for work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For the next series entry, Murder on a Bridle Path (1936), the character would be played by Helen Broderick, who bequeathed the role to Zasu Pitts for the last two films in the franchise, The Plot Thickens (1936) and Forty Naughty Girls (1940). By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

I suggest using your head a little.
- Oscar Piper
That'd be nice work for you, Oscar, if you could get it.
- Hildegarde Withers

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Puzzle of the Pepper Tree. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Bill Dooley and Harry Allen to the cast, while Hollywood Reporter news items add James Burtis and Virginia Reid. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, scenes for the film were shot at Santa Catalina Island off the southern California coast. Murder on a Honeymoon was the third film in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series, and the last production in which Edna May Oliver played the Hildegarde Withers character. For more information concerning the series, consult the Series Index and for Penguin Pool Murder.