The Benson Murder Case (1930)

     On April 13, 1930, Paramount Pictures released the third Philo Vance film, The Benson Murder Case (1930), starring William Powell as Vance.  Paramount Pictures focused the story on a real tragedy for many American at the time, the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

     Prior to the crash, many Americans were purchasing stocks for one-fourth of their face value.  Without getting too technical, Americans were financing three-fourths of the value of the stocks on credit.  When stocks began to crash, brokers began to make cash calls for the balance of the credit.  Most Americans could not come up with so much cash, so they went broke.


William Powell from the Public Domain

     In this film, Anthony Benson, played by Richard Tucker, bankrupts four of his associates to protect his investments.  Only Harry Gray, who may or may not have criminal associations, seems to take the loss in stride.  Benson invites Gray, played by William “Stage” Boyd, to spend the weekend with him at his country estate.

     While Benson and Gray are relaxing, the other three associates arrive and make various demands of Benson.  While Benson deals with the angry former investors, District Attorney Markham, played by E. H. Calvert, and Philo Vance also stop by.  Markham is one of Benson’s neighbor.

    Vance shows an obvious interest in Harry Gray and his activities.  Gray is amused by the interest and puts a challenge to Vance about solving a “professional” murder instead of a murder committed by an amateur.  Vance gets his chance when Mr. Benson is shot and falls down the stairs at their feet.

     The Benson Murder Case runs approximately 65 minutes.  The Canary Murder Case (1929) and The Kennel Murder Case (1933) are better films and easier to find but The Benson Murder Case is a must for Philo Vance fans.

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