The Plot Thickens (1936)

65 or 67-69 mins | Mystery | 11 December 1936

Director:

Ben Holmes

Cinematographer:

Nicholas Musuraca

Editor:

John Lockert

Production Designer:

Van Nest Polglase

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film, which was the fifth production in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series and the first to star ZaSu Pitts as "Hildegarde," was The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl . Helen Broderick and Edna May Oliver each had played the role of Hildegarde before Pitts. According to modern sources, Hildegarde's character and mannerisms were changed by the writers to accommodate Pitts's "fluttery" acting style. MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" includes Spencer Charters, George Sorel, Bodil Rosing and John Miltern as 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 ... More Less

The working title of this film, which was the fifth production in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series and the first to star ZaSu Pitts as "Hildegarde," was The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl . Helen Broderick and Edna May Oliver each had played the role of Hildegarde before Pitts. According to modern sources, Hildegarde's character and mannerisms were changed by the writers to accommodate Pitts's "fluttery" acting style. MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" includes Spencer Charters, George Sorel, Bodil Rosing and John Miltern as 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. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Nov 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
9 Dec 36
p. 38.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 36
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 36
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 36
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Oct 36
p. 38.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Nov 36
p. 51.
New York Times
9 Dec 36
p. 35.
Variety
16 Dec 36
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
SOUND
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl" by Stuart Palmer in Mystery (Nov 1933).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl
Release Date:
11 December 1936
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 8 December 1936
Production Date:
mid September--early October 1936
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 December 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6752
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65 or 67-69
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2666
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Late one night, following a series of arguments, wealthy John Carter is murdered in his car in a New York park. After Carter's body is found in his study by Kendall, the butler, police inspector Oscar Piper is assigned to the case. Soon, Oscar's girl friend, Hildegarde Withers, a schoolteacher and clever amateur sleuth, also joins the investigation. Oscar's first suspect is pretty Alice Stevens, who was with Carter seconds before he was murdered, and her boyfriend, Robert Wilkins, whose jealous tirade against Carter had been witnessed by a policeman. While inspecting Carter's house, however, Hildegarde discovers a mysterious jewel case containing a large emerald and learns from a jeweler that the gem is the famous Sultan emerald, which had been stolen years before from the Louvre. Under pressure from Oscar, Robert admits that, to protect Alice, he had returned Carter's corpse to his garage but not to the study. After learning from Kendall that Carter had argued with a French-accented stranger, Hildegarde tells Oscar, a reluctant listener, about the jewel. Oscar and Hildegarde then return to Carter's to question Joe, the chauffeur, and while looking at photographs of a decorative cup in the study, Hildegarde is knocked out by a masked thief, who steals a cup from a safe that resembles the one in the photographs. Sure that her jewel theory is correct, Hildegarde determines that the cup is the valuable Cellini Cup, which is housed in the city's Cosmopolitan Museum. While Hildegarde is at the museum, a guard is murdered and the cup is stolen. After an exhaustive search for both the cup and its fake, as well as rounds ... +


Late one night, following a series of arguments, wealthy John Carter is murdered in his car in a New York park. After Carter's body is found in his study by Kendall, the butler, police inspector Oscar Piper is assigned to the case. Soon, Oscar's girl friend, Hildegarde Withers, a schoolteacher and clever amateur sleuth, also joins the investigation. Oscar's first suspect is pretty Alice Stevens, who was with Carter seconds before he was murdered, and her boyfriend, Robert Wilkins, whose jealous tirade against Carter had been witnessed by a policeman. While inspecting Carter's house, however, Hildegarde discovers a mysterious jewel case containing a large emerald and learns from a jeweler that the gem is the famous Sultan emerald, which had been stolen years before from the Louvre. Under pressure from Oscar, Robert admits that, to protect Alice, he had returned Carter's corpse to his garage but not to the study. After learning from Kendall that Carter had argued with a French-accented stranger, Hildegarde tells Oscar, a reluctant listener, about the jewel. Oscar and Hildegarde then return to Carter's to question Joe, the chauffeur, and while looking at photographs of a decorative cup in the study, Hildegarde is knocked out by a masked thief, who steals a cup from a safe that resembles the one in the photographs. Sure that her jewel theory is correct, Hildegarde determines that the cup is the valuable Cellini Cup, which is housed in the city's Cosmopolitan Museum. While Hildegarde is at the museum, a guard is murdered and the cup is stolen. After an exhaustive search for both the cup and its fake, as well as rounds of questioning of suspects, Oscar and Hildegarde deduce that a gang of thieves connected to Carter, which includes Joe, a sculptress and a midget, committed the robberies and that Joe murdered Carter. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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