The Gracie Allen Murder Case


1h 14m 1939

Brief Synopsis

The zany plot follows nitwit Gracie Allen trying to help master sleuth Philo Vance solve a murder. Allen's uncle fixes her up with Bill at a company picnic. When the two go out to a nightclub that night, Gracie inadvertently links Bill to the murder of a thug after finding the dead body and Bill's cigarette case at the scene of the crime. While being questioned at the club, she meets Vance who's investigating the homicide. After Gracie's bungled attempts to solve the case, Vance decides it might be easier to have her working with him. Despite Gracie's "help," the two eventually find the real killer.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 2, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Gracie Allen Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (New York, 1938).

Technical Specs

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

Synopsis

Bill Brown tries to make his girl friend, Ann Wilson, jealous by flirting with Gracie Allen, the niece of his boss, at a company picnic. Quickly irritated by Gracie's relentless illogic, Bill nevertheless escorts her to the Diamond Slipper Cafe, where Gracie discovers Bill's cigarette case next to the body of escaped convict Benny "The Buzzard" Nelson. Gracie blithely incriminates Bill during the police investigation, and a worried Ann brings detective Philo Vance on to the case. During the course of the investigation, which is hampered by Gracie's maddening interference, Dixie Del Marr, a dancer at the Diamond Slipper, is murdered by poison placed on flowers that Vance had sent her. Quickly exonerated, Vance deduces that the killer is Daniel Mirche, the owner of the Diamond Slipper, who had framed the Buzzard for crimes committed by himself. Confronted by Vance and the police, Mirche implicates his lawyer, Richard Lawrence, in the murders and is about to shoot Vance when Gracie arrives, turning the tables on Mirche by providing evidence against Lawrence and preventing Vance from smoking a poisoned cigarette that he has been unknowingly carrying. The murders solved, Ann and Bill are reunited.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 2, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Gracie Allen Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (New York, 1938).

Technical Specs

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

Articles

Ellen Drew, 1914-2003


Ellen Drew, a talented leading lady who was adept at handling light comedy or noirish thrillers, died of liver failure at her home on December 3rd in Palm Desert, California. She was 89.

She was born Esther Loretta "Terry" Ray on November 23, 1914, in Kansas City, Missouri. The daughter of a barber, her family moved to Chicago when she was still an infant and she lived a very quiet childhood far removed from the glamour of Hollywood. She was encouraged by some friends to enter a beauty contest when she was just 17. After winning, she tried her luck in Hollywood, but found that they were no immediate offers for her particular talents.

She eventually took a waitressing job at C.C. Brown's, a famed Hollywood Boulevard soda fountain, and had virtually abandoned her dreams as a starlet when William Demarest, a popular actor's agent and well-known character actor, spotted her. Demarest arranged a screen test for her at Paramount, and she was promptly placed under contract for $50 a week.

For the first few years, (1936-38), Drew got only bit parts, and was often uncredited. When she finally got prominent billing in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938), she decided to change her name, from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. She earned her first major role in Frank Lloyd's If I Were King (1938) opposite Ronald Colman, yet for the most part of her career, rarely rose above "B" material and second leads. Still, she had some fine exceptions: Preston Sturges' enchanting comedy Christmas in July (1940), with Dick Powell; Tay Garnett's lighthearted war romp My Favorite Spy (1942) co-starring Kay Kyser; Julien Duvivier's taut The Imposter (1944), holding her own with a brooding Jean Gabin; and Mark Robson's chilling low-budget chiller Isle of the Dead (1945) opposite Boris Karloff. Drew made some notable television appearances in the late '50s including Perry Mason and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, before retiring from the entertainment industry. She is survived by her son David; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Ellen Drew, 1914-2003

Ellen Drew, 1914-2003

Ellen Drew, a talented leading lady who was adept at handling light comedy or noirish thrillers, died of liver failure at her home on December 3rd in Palm Desert, California. She was 89. She was born Esther Loretta "Terry" Ray on November 23, 1914, in Kansas City, Missouri. The daughter of a barber, her family moved to Chicago when she was still an infant and she lived a very quiet childhood far removed from the glamour of Hollywood. She was encouraged by some friends to enter a beauty contest when she was just 17. After winning, she tried her luck in Hollywood, but found that they were no immediate offers for her particular talents. She eventually took a waitressing job at C.C. Brown's, a famed Hollywood Boulevard soda fountain, and had virtually abandoned her dreams as a starlet when William Demarest, a popular actor's agent and well-known character actor, spotted her. Demarest arranged a screen test for her at Paramount, and she was promptly placed under contract for $50 a week. For the first few years, (1936-38), Drew got only bit parts, and was often uncredited. When she finally got prominent billing in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938), she decided to change her name, from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. She earned her first major role in Frank Lloyd's If I Were King (1938) opposite Ronald Colman, yet for the most part of her career, rarely rose above "B" material and second leads. Still, she had some fine exceptions: Preston Sturges' enchanting comedy Christmas in July (1940), with Dick Powell; Tay Garnett's lighthearted war romp My Favorite Spy (1942) co-starring Kay Kyser; Julien Duvivier's taut The Imposter (1944), holding her own with a brooding Jean Gabin; and Mark Robson's chilling low-budget chiller Isle of the Dead (1945) opposite Boris Karloff. Drew made some notable television appearances in the late '50s including Perry Mason and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, before retiring from the entertainment industry. She is survived by her son David; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

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Notes

This was Gracie Allen's first picture without George Burns. For information on other films featuring the "Philo Vance" character, for The Kennel Murder Case and consult the Series Index.