Murder in the Private Car (1934)

60 or 65 mins | Mystery | 29 June 1934

Director:

Harry Beaumont

Producer:

Lucien Hubbard

Cinematographers:

Leonard Smith, James Van Trees

Editor:

William S. Gray

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Rear Car , Clear the Track and Murder in the Rear Car . M-G-M borrowed Charlie Ruggles from Paramount for this production. According to a HR news item, Ruggles was hired to replace Charles Butterworth, who dropped out of the cast because of a sinus condition. An ad in HF credits Naba as playing the gorilla in the picture, while the Call Bureau Cast Service lists Ray Corrigan (Ray Benard) as the ape. Although Naba is described in the ad as a "giant gorilla," MPA lists him as a "player." It has not been determined if Naba and Benard both appeared in the film, if Benard and Naba were the same person, or if one took over the role from the other. A viewing of the film suggests that the gorilla was an actor in costume, but it is possible that both a real ape and an actor were used. Clarence Badger directed Marie Prevost and Raymond Griffith in Red Lights , a 1923 Goldwyn Pictures release based on Edward E. Rose's play (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Rear Car , Clear the Track and Murder in the Rear Car . M-G-M borrowed Charlie Ruggles from Paramount for this production. According to a HR news item, Ruggles was hired to replace Charles Butterworth, who dropped out of the cast because of a sinus condition. An ad in HF credits Naba as playing the gorilla in the picture, while the Call Bureau Cast Service lists Ray Corrigan (Ray Benard) as the ape. Although Naba is described in the ad as a "giant gorilla," MPA lists him as a "player." It has not been determined if Naba and Benard both appeared in the film, if Benard and Naba were the same person, or if one took over the role from the other. A viewing of the film suggests that the gorilla was an actor in costume, but it is possible that both a real ape and an actor were used. Clarence Badger directed Marie Prevost and Raymond Griffith in Red Lights , a 1923 Goldwyn Pictures release based on Edward E. Rose's play (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4506). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Jun 34
p. 1.
Daily Variety
4 Jun 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Jul 34
p. 7.
HF
19 May 34
p. 8.
HF
9 Jun 34
p. 8.
HF
11 Aug 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
19 Jun 34
p. 18.
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jun 34
p. 87.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Jun 34
pp. 52-53.
MPSI
1 Jun 35
p. 5.
Variety
10 Jul 34
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set des
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Rear Car by Edward E. Rose (Los Angeles, 6 Aug 1922).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Clear the Track
Murder in the Rear Car
Rear Car
Release Date:
29 June 1934
Production Date:
8 May--mid June 1934
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
27 June 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4807
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
60 or 65
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, telephone operator Ruth Raymond learns from lawyer Alden Murray that she actually is the long-lost daughter of railroad magnate Luke Carson. Carson had been kidnapped as a toddler by his vengeful brother and business partner Elwood and reared in obscurity by strangers. Soon after Ruth is established as an heiress, her bodyguard and chauffeur attempt to kidnap her, but are foiled by the arrival of the mysterious Godfrey D. Scott, who deliberately punctures the kidnappers' gas tank while Ruth is meeting with her boyfriend, John Blake, in a park. After the failed kidnapping, a telegram from Carson, in which he tells Ruth that he is meeting her in Los Angeles, is intercepted and replaced by a telegram that advises Ruth to take the train to New York. As Ruth, her best friend Georgia Latham, and Murray board the private car of one of her father's east-bound trains, John rushes to warn Ruth about the trip, but is chased away by the police. Soon after the train leaves, the lights go out in Ruth's car, and she finds a note that reads "eight hours to live." At that moment, Scott announces his presence on the train and introduces himself to the group as a "de-flector," a sleuth who prevents crime. While Scott defends himself to the doubting Ruth, Georgia and Murray, a train porter is thrown from the train by an unseen assailant. Allen, Ruth's adoring former boss, then storms into the car and, aware that Carson is not in New York, accuses Murray of duplicity and insists that Ruth is not Carson's daughter. After quieting Allen, Scott reunites ... +


In Los Angeles, telephone operator Ruth Raymond learns from lawyer Alden Murray that she actually is the long-lost daughter of railroad magnate Luke Carson. Carson had been kidnapped as a toddler by his vengeful brother and business partner Elwood and reared in obscurity by strangers. Soon after Ruth is established as an heiress, her bodyguard and chauffeur attempt to kidnap her, but are foiled by the arrival of the mysterious Godfrey D. Scott, who deliberately punctures the kidnappers' gas tank while Ruth is meeting with her boyfriend, John Blake, in a park. After the failed kidnapping, a telegram from Carson, in which he tells Ruth that he is meeting her in Los Angeles, is intercepted and replaced by a telegram that advises Ruth to take the train to New York. As Ruth, her best friend Georgia Latham, and Murray board the private car of one of her father's east-bound trains, John rushes to warn Ruth about the trip, but is chased away by the police. Soon after the train leaves, the lights go out in Ruth's car, and she finds a note that reads "eight hours to live." At that moment, Scott announces his presence on the train and introduces himself to the group as a "de-flector," a sleuth who prevents crime. While Scott defends himself to the doubting Ruth, Georgia and Murray, a train porter is thrown from the train by an unseen assailant. Allen, Ruth's adoring former boss, then storms into the car and, aware that Carson is not in New York, accuses Murray of duplicity and insists that Ruth is not Carson's daughter. After quieting Allen, Scott reunites stowaway John with Ruth, and romances Georgia until the train is stopped suddenly by a circus wreck on the tracks. While the wreck is cleared, a gorilla escapes from its cage and sneaks into Ruth's car. Later, Murray is stabbed to death, and a voice announces that the remaining private car passengers only have five hours to live. The gorilla then attacks Ruth and Georgia and finally jumps from the train after attacking a terrified Scott. The next morning, the train stops in a small southwestern town, where Carson had been told through a strange radio message to meet up with Ruth. After father and daughter enjoy a happy reunion, they re-board the private car and resume their journey. Suddenly all of the windows are blackened one by one, and the mysterious voice tells the frightened passengers to "say their prayers." Carson finally recognizes the voice as that of his brother Elwood, and once identified, Elwood explains that as revenge for Carson's previous defrauding, he has planted explosives on the private car and uncoupled it so that it is now on a collision course with an east-bound train. As the train hurtles backward through the mountain divide, Scott overwhelms and kills Elwood, who is revealed to be in the disguise of Hanks, a porter, then radios the other fast-approaching train. After a long and treacherous trip, the private car avoids the collision, and all of its passengers are transferred safely to another train. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.