Murder on a Bridle Path


1h 6m 1936
Murder on a Bridle Path

Brief Synopsis

Schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers matches wits with the police to solve the murder of a society bride in Central Park.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Puzzle of the Briar Pipe
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Apr 17, 1936
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 10 Apr 1936
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Puzzle of the Red Stallion by Stuart Palmer (New York, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

When the body of Violet Feverel, who had taken her horse for an evening ride, is discovered in Central Park, Inspector Oscar Piper of the New York police arrives at the crime scene and is joined by his friend, amateur detective and schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers. After Hildegarde locates Violet's horse and bloodied saddle, Oscar concludes that she was murdered and begins to question suspects, including Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet's stable. Confronted by Oscar's suspicions, Wells reveals that Violet had quarreled with Eddie Fry, her sister Barbara Foley's boyfriend, just before the murder. Hildegarde then finds out from High Pockets, a stable employee, that Violet also had quarreled with Wells just before her death. At Violet's apartment, Oscar and Hildegarde discover Eddie and Barbara hastily packing and question them. The young couple, who had become engaged in spite of Violet's objections, defend their innocence and cast suspicion on Don Gregg, Violet's ex-husband, whom Violet had jailed for nonpayment of alimony. Oscar and Hildegarde show up at Gregg's Long Island mansion, where they discover Don's sickly father Patrick unconscious. Later, while the old man sleeps, Hildegarde inspects his pants's pockets, finds a handwritten receipt for Don's alimony payments and deduces that Patrick gambled on horse races. Still suspicious of Don, Oscar calls the jail and learns that he had been released the night of the murder with a forged court order. After Don is arrested for the murder, Oscar and Hildegarde discover that the forger is not Don, but the same person who wrote the alimony receipt. Oscar and Hildegarde return to the Gregg mansion and find Patrick dead, an apparent victim of a heart attack. On a hunch, Hildegarde begins to snoop in the room of Chris Thomas, the butler, and soon stumbles on the gun that killed Violet. During her inspection, Thomas catches Hildegarde and reveals that he killed both Violet and Patrick. Patrick, whose horse had crippled Thomas' son Joey as a boy, had used all of Thomas' savings to pay off Violet's alimony instead of betting the money on a longshot, which if it had won, would have paid for an operation for Joey. Intent on killing Don as well, Thomas also forged the court order. Before a crazed Thomas harms Hildegarde, Oscar rushes in and saves her, then arrests the killer.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Puzzle of the Briar Pipe
Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Apr 17, 1936
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 10 Apr 1936
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Puzzle of the Red Stallion by Stuart Palmer (New York, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Murder on a Bridle Path


After playing mystery writer Stuart Palmer's schoolmarm sleuth Hildegard Withers in three charming whodunits for RKO Radio Pictures, star Edna Mae Oliver departed for the sunnier shores of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and featured roles in such prestige pictures as Jack Conway's A Tale of Two Cities (1935) and George Cukor's David Copperfield (1935) and Romeo and Juliet (1936). Stepping into Miss Withers' sensible shoes for her first and only stab at the role in Murder on a Bridal Path (1936) was former vaudeville comic Helen Broderick (mother of Broderick Crawford, then 25 years old), at the time between assignments as a comic foil for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the RKO musicals Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936). Based on Palmer's 1935 novel Puzzle of the Red Stallion, the film follows the seemingly accidental death of a young socialite on Central Park's bridle path to its inevitable reveal as murder most foul in a creepy Long Island mansion. Returning series regular James Gleason (as Withers' policeman paramour Oscar Piper) was promoted from second to top billing for this invigorating romp and retained it for the last two series entries, which partnered him with ZaSu Pitts as the exacting but indefatigable amateur detective. Featured in smaller roles in Murder on a Bridal Path is African-American comic Willie Best, as a helpful stable hand named High Pockets, and crooner Tony Martin.

By Richard Harland Smith
Murder On A Bridle Path

Murder on a Bridle Path

After playing mystery writer Stuart Palmer's schoolmarm sleuth Hildegard Withers in three charming whodunits for RKO Radio Pictures, star Edna Mae Oliver departed for the sunnier shores of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and featured roles in such prestige pictures as Jack Conway's A Tale of Two Cities (1935) and George Cukor's David Copperfield (1935) and Romeo and Juliet (1936). Stepping into Miss Withers' sensible shoes for her first and only stab at the role in Murder on a Bridal Path (1936) was former vaudeville comic Helen Broderick (mother of Broderick Crawford, then 25 years old), at the time between assignments as a comic foil for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the RKO musicals Top Hat (1935) and Swing Time (1936). Based on Palmer's 1935 novel Puzzle of the Red Stallion, the film follows the seemingly accidental death of a young socialite on Central Park's bridle path to its inevitable reveal as murder most foul in a creepy Long Island mansion. Returning series regular James Gleason (as Withers' policeman paramour Oscar Piper) was promoted from second to top billing for this invigorating romp and retained it for the last two series entries, which partnered him with ZaSu Pitts as the exacting but indefatigable amateur detective. Featured in smaller roles in Murder on a Bridal Path is African-American comic Willie Best, as a helpful stable hand named High Pockets, and crooner Tony Martin. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Puzzle of the Briar Pipe, which was also the title of the British edition of Palmer's novel. Murder on a Bridle Path was the fourth production in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series, and the first and only in which Helen Broderick played the "Hildegarde Withers" character. According to a Hollywood Reporter production chart, Dewey Robinson, Maxine Jennings and Barlowe Borland were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. For more information on the series, see entry for Penguin Pool Murder and consult the Series Index.