Murder at the Vanities (1934)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

+The Earl Carroll Vanities, a popular Broadway revue of the 1930s and '40s, is the setting for this murder mystery interspersed with an assortment of variety acts, including Duke Ellington performing "Ebony Rhapsody" and a novelty number called "Marijuana." Victor McLaglen stars as Bill Murdock, a detective investigating a series of murders during the opening night of a new edition of the +Vanities. When private detective Sadie Evans (Gail Patrick) is found murdered, Murdock must investigate between musical numbers to find the killer. When Rita Rose (Gertrude Michael) next turns up dead, Murdock concludes young ingenue Ann Ware (Kitty Carlisle) is the next person marked for death. Murdock has to find the murderer before the ending of the show or else he or she could disappear in the departing crowd of theatergoers.
Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


Victor McLaglen
as Police Lt. Bill Murdock
Jessie Ralph
as Mrs. Helen Smith
Gail Patrick
as Sadie Evans
Carl Brisson
as Eric Lander
Dorothy Stickney
as Norma Watson
Kitty Carlisle
as Anne Ware
Colin Tapley
as Stage Manager
Jack Oakie
as Jack Ellery
Donald Meek
as Dr. Saunders
Toby Wing
as Nancy
Stanley Blystone
as Policeman
Gertrude Michael
as Rita Ross
Lona Andre
as Lona
Charles B. Middleton
as Homer Boothby
Evelyn Kelly
as Earl Carroll Girl
Dorothy White
as Dancer
Hal Greene
as Call Boy
Cecil Weston
as Miss Bernstein
William Arnold
as Treasurer
Wanda Perry
as Earl Carroll Girl
Ruth Hilliard
as Earl Carroll Girl
Anya Taranda
as Earl Carroll Girl
Betty Bethune
as Fat Charwoman
Ernestine Anderson
as Earl Carroll Girl
Marion Callahan
as Earl Carroll Girl
Dorothy Dawes
as Earl Carroll Girl
Constance Jordan
as Earl Carroll Girl
Leda Necova
as Earl Carroll Girl
Laurie Shevlin
as Earl Carroll Girl
Dave O'Brian
as Chorus Boy
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Critic Reviews for Murder at the Vanities

All Critics (6)

One of the unsung gems of pre-Code film.

Full Review… | August 14, 2013
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The nutty tessitura of this "investigation set to music" encompasses everything from Toby Wing's giggly squeal to an astonishing blend of classicism and hot jazz

Full Review… | April 8, 2012

... fast-moving, fast-talking, sexy little entertainment...

Full Review… | April 9, 2009
Parallax View

'Murder of the Musical' would be a better name.

October 8, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

Quote not available.

July 27, 2005

Quote not available.

October 10, 2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for Murder at the Vanities

the murder mystery is a flimsy excuse to put on a musical within a musical and show case the singers & dancers paramount had under contract this pic is perhaps best known 'cos it faetures the 'marijuana song" sung infront of a giant prickly cactus!

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Murder mystery with a musical backdrop shows its age but has some interesting numbers in particular Duke Ellington's orchestra's production and the now infamous Marijuana number with discreetly covered but unquestionably topless showgirls. Lost in amongst the hundreds of hopeful showgirls and chorus boys are Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan and Alan Ladd all still years away from any kind of fame and hard to spot. The acting is okay but this is more of a curio as a good example of some of the things that were common before the code, implied or actual nudity, drug references and occasional swearing that would disappear for almost 3 decades when the Hayes code took full effect within a very short time after this film premiered.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

The movie was decent, indeed. I only saw it because of its status as a precode movie, but I definitely enjoyed it. The characters were highly memorable, even if the song numbers weren't always. I did love "Cocktails for Two" and "Marihuana," but I could take or leave the rest. Not a bad flick.

Giffy Giffoniello
Giffy Giffoniello

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