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In his return to the S. S. Van Dine ghoulish extravaganzas William Powell, while easily surpassing his understudy, Basil Rathbone, who appeared as Philo Vance in the "Bishop Murder Case", gives a distinctly inferior performance to his first appearance as the modernist detective. His suavity is the direct cause of objection: ennui sits so heavily upon him that it finally spreads to the spectator and the latter at last doesn't give a--(censored on Sundays) just who did make off with the entirely nasty stockbroker: he's done away with and that's the important point. Mr. Powell sits and sits and-sits, oozes urbanity, overboiled coffee and Japanese prints, and almost succeeds in making the picture a bore. That it attains mediocrity instead of flat failure is due to the rest of the cast, notably William Boyd (not the William Boyd) who makes perhaps the smoothest gangster seen in these parts since the Wall Street Explosion. Paul Lukas as the flat foot causes one to wonder what, if anything, Law and Order is coming to.
Richard Dix in "Lovin' the Ladies" provides the other feature picture and does an adequate job: masquerading as a gentleman instead of the good electrician he really is. Dix is strongly reminiscent of the chauffeur in Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman." The story drags in the latter reels.
The best spot on the bill from the attitude of pure entertainment is the two-reel comedy "Blotto", the quintessence of which is entirely Laurel and Hardy. Under the direction of James Parrot, these slapstickers have raised the art of pie-slinging to a level surpassing everybody but, and equalling Monsieur Chaplin. The gags and plot are worse than mediocre but thanks to two exquisitely mobile faces Laurel and Hardy have their audience rolling about floors and tearing the distinctive features off armchairs.
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