Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Nine years before stepping into the role of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone essayed the character of S.S. Van Dyne's dilettante detective Philo Vance in The Bishop Murder Case. The murderer this time is a mysterious figure known only as "The Bishop." Plotting his killings in the systematic manner of a chess game, The Bishop tips off each of his crimes by sending the police cryptic messages in the form of nursery rhymes (his first victim, felled by an arrow, is referred to as "Cock Robin"). Heroine Belle Dillard (Leila Hyams) fears that The Bishop may be her own sweetheart, Sigurd Arnesson (Roland Young) -- indeed, that's what the police think as well -- but Philo Vance carefully puts the clues together to finger the actual culprit. With surprising foresightedness, several of the characters remark upon Vance's deductive skills by referring to him as "Sherlock." Well-directed, and with an imaginative use of "natural" sound in the exterior scenes, The Bishop Murder Case is ultimately laid low by its molasses-slow pacing, though things become moderately exciting when the heroine is kidnapped in the last reel.
police-detective, investigation, archery, crime-solving, deduction [reasoning], multiple-murder, nursery-rhymes, suspect, truth, arrow, chess, elderly, hunchback, murder, police, bishop, message