The Casino Murder Case (1935)

Genres - Crime, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Docudrama  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The Casino Murder Case is worthy of a footnote as Paul Lukas' only go at the role of detective Philo Vance, and it is largely because of Lukas that the film is not one of the better entries in the series. This is not to say that Lukas is a bad actor; as many of his other films attest, he's quite a fine one and at times is absolutely superb. But he's simply not the right type for Vance, the kind of smooth-talking, suave, debonair character that has to be able to play everything with a light touch and seem simultaneously intensely involved and ready to drop everything for a quick drink. This doesn't describe Lukas, and no matter how skillfully he goes about the part, it just doesn't ring true. And on a more superficial level, things are not made any better by his Hungarian accent, completely wrong for a character that is a distinctly American type. Even were Lukas more the right type, there would still be some issues with Casino, as the mix of mystery and comedy isn't always as smooth as one might wish. Rosalind Russell is good, but not she hasn't quite yet hit her stride here. That's not a problem for either Alison Skipworth or Isabel Jewell, who are excellent, and the likes of Eric Blore and Charles Sellon also make strong contributions.