The Canary Murder Case (film)

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The Canary Murder Case
Canary murder case.jpg
theatrical poster
Directed by Malcolm St. Clair
Frank Tuttle (added sound scenes)
Written by Novel:
S.S. Van Dine
S.S. Van Dine
Albert S. Le Vino
Florence Ryerson
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Starring William Powell
Louise Brooks
Jean Arthur
Music by Karl Hajos
Cinematography Cliff Blackstone
Harry Fischbeck
Edited by William Shea
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates February 28, 1929
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Canary Murder Case (1929) is a crime/mystery film made by Paramount Pictures, directed by Malcolm St. Clair and Frank Tuttle. The screenplay was written by Willard Huntington Wright (as S.S. Van Dine), Albert S. Le Vino, and Florence Ryerson, based on novel The Canary Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine. It was the first film in the series of Philo Vance films adapted from the novels, starring William Powell as Philo Vance, Louise Brooks as the Canary, and Jean Arthur as Alys LaFosse.



Louise Brooks in The Canary Murder Case

This film was initially made as a silent picture, then reworked as a sound film. Louise Brooks' refusal to cooperate in the sound version had a major impact on her career.

After filming the silent version of "The Canary Murder Case," Brooks left for Germany to make two films for director G. W. Pabst. Her option with Paramount Pictures was up, and since the studio would not give her a raise, she saw no reason to remain in Hollywood. Months later, Paramount decided to re-shoot some scenes of "Canary" with recorded dialogue. The studio cabled Brooks in Berlin, demanding that she return to record her lines. She refused, taking the position that she no longer had an obligation to Paramount. Under the purported threat that she would never work in Hollywood again after such open defiance, she bluntly replied, "Who wants to work in Hollywood?"

Paramount spent considerable money to hire actress Margaret Livingston (the "Woman from the City" in F.W. Murnau's Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans) to dub the dialogue for Brooks in "Canary" where possible, as well as to re-shoot some scenes, with Livingston seen only in profile or from behind. The golden age of German cinema soon ended with the rise of Nazism, and Brooks found herself back in Hollywood. She was never able to get good roles there again and soon retired. Though her time as a star was over, her battle with studio moguls helped add to her eventual legend.

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