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Murder at the Vanities

Released May 18, 1934 1h 10m Musical Comedy List
78% Tomatometer 9 Reviews 38% Audience Score 50+ Ratings A slow detective (Victor McLaglen) puzzles over backstage murders in between numbers at a New York theater. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (9) Critics Reviews
Matt Brunson Film Frenzy There are many oddball touches in this occasionally creaky but always entertaining romp. Rated: 3/4 Oct 18, 2022 Full Review Sean Axmaker Stream on Demand IMurder at the VanitiesI has all with the sex and smart-alecky attitude and snappy pace of the best pre-code studio pictures. Mar 20, 2022 Full Review Richard Whitehall Los Angeles Free Press Poor murder mystery-cum-musical. Feb 3, 2020 Full Review Helen Brown Norden Vanity Fair The Earl Carroll show transplanted to the screen, with more beautiful girls than you can shake a stick at. Jun 7, 2019 Full Review Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) One of the unsung gems of pre-Code film. Rated: 4.5/5 Aug 14, 2013 Full Review Fernando F. Croce CinePassion The nutty tessitura of this "investigation set to music" encompasses everything from Toby Wing's giggly squeal to an astonishing blend of classicism and hot jazz Apr 8, 2012 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (12) audience reviews
Audience Member This "pre-Code" backstage musical from Paramount is pretty ordinary. Not unlike in 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, and their ilk, the performers are seen onstage and off, and the plot revolves around maintaining the show despite trouble. This time the trouble is, of course, murder. Victor McLaglen is the homicide detective who spends more time ogling the chorus girls than solving the crime. Jack Oakie is the stage manager who withholds evidence in order to keep the show from being shut-down. Everybody else is a red-herring or them who done it. Unfortunately, the plot is hum-drum and the musical numbers are sub-Busby (though purposefully racy). Not worth your time. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member the murder mystery is a flimsy excuse to put on a musical within a musical and show case the singers & dancers paramount had under contract this pic is perhaps best known 'cos it faetures the 'marijuana song" sung infront of a giant prickly cactus! Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member 2: There's nothing about the story that is terribly controversial for a pre- or post-code film, but the camera angles and costumes are rather revealing. There are times when one isn't sure if the woman in the dance numbers are completely nude due to the skin-colored nature of their practically non-existent costumes. It's a silly murder mystery combined with a behind-the-scenes show business romance. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member OK pre-code would like to see an updated version Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member Murder mystery with a musical backdrop shows its age but has some interesting numbers in particular Duke Ellington's orchestra's production and the now infamous Marijuana number with discreetly covered but unquestionably topless showgirls. Lost in amongst the hundreds of hopeful showgirls and chorus boys are Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan and Alan Ladd all still years away from any kind of fame and hard to spot. The acting is okay but this is more of a curio as a good example of some of the things that were common before the code, implied or actual nudity, drug references and occasional swearing that would disappear for almost 3 decades when the Hayes code took full effect within a very short time after this film premiered. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member good pre-code with the marijuana song! Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Murder at the Vanities

My Rating


Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis A slow detective (Victor McLaglen) puzzles over backstage murders in between numbers at a New York theater.
Mitch Leisen
E. Lloyd Sheldon
Earl Carroll, Carey Wilson, Joseph Gollomb, Sam Hellman, Rufus King
Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures
Production Co
Paramount Pictures
Musical, Comedy
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
May 18, 1934, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
May 9, 2017
1h 10m
Sound Mix
Aspect Ratio
Flat (1.37:1)