|Murder on the Blackboard|
|Directed by||George Archainbaud|
|Screenplay by||Willis Goldbeck|
|Based on||the 1932 novel Murder on the Blackboard|
by Stuart Palmer
|Produced by|| Pandro S. Berman |
|Starring|| Edna May Oliver |
|Edited by||Archie Marshek|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
Murder on the Blackboard is a 1934 American pre-Code mystery/comedy film starring Edna May Oliver as schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers and James Gleason as Police Inspector Oscar Piper. Together, they investigate a murder at Withers' school. It was based on the novel of the same name by Stuart Palmer. It features popular actor Bruce Cabot in one of his first post- King Kong roles, as well as Gertrude Michael, Regis Toomey, and Edgar Kennedy.
Murder on the Blackboard was the second of three films teaming Oliver and Gleason as Withers and Piper, following The Penguin Pool Murder and preceding Murder on a Honeymoon . Director George Archainbaud also directed the first film in the series.
Miss Withers (Oliver) discovers the dead body of her colleague, music teacher Louise Halloran (Barbara Fritchie), in a schoolroom. She summons her old friend, Inspector Oscar Piper (Gleason), but by the time he arrives, the corpse has disappeared. Having watched the only entrance (other than a fire exit with an alarm), Miss Withers knows the killer must still be inside. When the police search the building, Detective Donahue (Kennedy) is knocked out in the basement. Meanwhile, Miss Withers notices various clues, including a tune on the blackboard in Halloran's classroom. The body is found being burned in the basement furnace. Then, the fire alarm goes off; the murderer has escaped.
Otto Schweitzer (Frederick Vogeding), the school's drunkard janitor, had some financial quarrel with Halloran. Piper arrests him, but Miss Withers does not believe he is the one they are after. She goes to the dead woman's apartment, which she had shared with her friend and school secretary, Jane Davis (Gertrude Michael). There, she discovers that Halloran held one of the tickets for the Irish Sweepstakes. A newspaper account reports it is for the favorite in the race and is already worth $50,000. If the horse were to win, the amount would be $300,000. Davis claims she had a half share in the ticket, giving her a motive for murder. Fellow teacher Addison Stevens (Cabot) admits that Halloran was attracted to him. MacFarland (Tully Marshall), the womanizing head of the school, asks Withers to investigate the crime, but suspiciously suggests she leave town to check out Halloran's relatives. Snooping around, she finds a fragment of a burnt love letter from him to Halloran.
Later, during another search of the basement, the light is turned off and someone throws a hatchet at Miss Wither's head. After getting over her fright, she triumphantly points out to Piper that Schweitzer could not be the killer, as he is still in jail. Then, they see a newspaper report that he has escaped. It is discovered that the victim was already dying of "pernicious anemia of the bones". When Donahue comes to in the hospital, he cannot remember what happened, but Miss Withers has Piper tell the newspapers that Donahue knows the killer's identity. When the murderer sneaks in to Donahue's hospital room to poison his medicine, the trap is sprung. The criminal turns out to be Addison Stevens. (The tune on the blackboard spelled out the first few letters of his first name.)
Seeing no escape, Stevens drinks the poison himself, but reveals his motive before dying. Halloran and he were secretly married last summer. When his feelings changed, though, she would not give him up. He tried poisoning her slowly (causing the anemia), but she became suspicious, forcing him to act more decisively. Later, when Miss Withers calls to console Davis, she is disillusioned when Detective "Smiley" North (Toomey) answers the telephone and reveals he is having breakfast with the pretty woman.
Edna May Oliver was an American stage and film actress. During the 1930s, she was one of the better-known character actresses in American films, often playing tart-tongued spinsters.
James Austin Gleason was an American actor, playwright and screenwriter born in New York City. Gleason often portrayed "tough-talking, world-weary guys with a secret heart-of-gold."
John Francis Regis Toomey was an American film and television actor.
Murder at the Gallop (1963) is the second of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based on the 1953 novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, and starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Charles "Bud" Tingwell as Inspector Craddock and Stringer Davis as Jane Marple's friend Mr. Stringer.
Murder Most Foul is the third of four Miss Marple films made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Loosely based on the 1952 novel Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie, it stars Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple, Charles Tingwell as Inspector Craddock, and Stringer Davis as Mr Stringer. The story is ostensibly based on Christie's novel, but notably changes the action and the characters. Hercule Poirot is replaced by Miss Marple and most of the other characters are not in the novel.
Stuart Palmer was a popular mystery novel writer and screenwriter best known for his character Hildegarde Withers. He also wrote under the names Theodore Orchards and Jay Stewart.
Hildegarde Withers is a fictional character, an amateur crime-solver, who has appeared in several novels, short stories and films. She was created by American mystery author Stuart Palmer (1905–1968).
The Alphabet Murders is a 1965 British detective film directed by Frank Tashlin and starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot. It is based on the 1936 novel The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie.
George Archainbaud was a French-American film and television director.
The Penguin Pool Murder is a 1932 American pre-Code comedy/mystery film starring Edna May Oliver as Hildegarde Withers, a witness in a murder case at the New York Aquarium, with James Gleason as the police inspector in charge of the case, who investigates with her unwanted help, and Robert Armstrong as an attorney representing Mae Clarke, the wife of the victim. Oliver's appearance was the first film appearance of the character of Hildegarde Withers, the schoolteacher and sleuth based on the character from the 1931 novel The Penguin Pool Murder by Stuart Palmer. It is the first in a trilogy including Murder on the Blackboard, and Murder on a Honeymoon, in which Oliver and Gleason team up for the lead roles.
Murder on a Honeymoon is an American 1935 mystery film starring Edna May Oliver and James Gleason. This was the third and last time Oliver portrayed astute schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers; the two previous films were The Penguin Pool Murder (1932) and Murder on the Blackboard (1934). The film was directed by Lloyd Corrigan from a screenplay by Seton I. Miller and Robert Benchley based on the 1933 novel The Puzzle of the Pepper Tree by Stuart Palmer. Palmer's novel, however, did not include Inspector Piper, and has Withers doing the investigating on her own.
The October Man is a 1947 mystery film/film noir starring John Mills and Joan Greenwood, written by novelist Eric Ambler, who also produced. A man is suspected of murder, and the lingering effects of a brain injury he sustained in an earlier accident, as well as an intensive police investigation, make him begin to doubt whether he is innocent.
Crown v. Stevens is a 1936 British crime thriller film directed by Michael Powell. It was made as a quota quickie.
Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone is a 1950 comedy/murder mystery film set on board a train. It stars Marjorie Main and James Whitmore. It is based on the short story "Once Upon a Train " by Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice.
Murder by the Clock is a 1931 American pre-Code murder mystery film starring William "Stage" Boyd and Lilyan Tashman. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Rufus King and the play Dangerously Yours by Charles Beahan.
Murder on a Bridle Path is a 1936 mystery film directed by William Hamilton and Edward Killy, starring James Gleason and Helen Broderick. This film was the fourth production in the Hildegarde Withers series, and the only one in which Broderick played Hildegarde Withers.
The Plot Thickens is a 1936 mystery film directed by William Sistrom, starring James Gleason and ZaSu Pitts, who plays the schoolteacher and amateur sleuth Hildegarde Withers from Stuart Palmer's stories. Gleason reprised his role as Hildegarde's friendly nemesis, Inspector Oscar Piper, from RKO Radio Pictures' previous Hildegarde Withers films.
The Solitaire Man is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film directed by Jack Conway and starring Herbert Marshall and Mary Boland.
Forty Naughty Girls is a 1937 American comedy film directed by Edward F. Cline and written by John Grey. The film stars James Gleason, ZaSu Pitts, Marjorie Lord, George Shelley and Joan Woodbury. It is the sixth and final entry in RKO Pictures' series of Hildegarde Withers films. This film was the sixth film in the Hildegarde Withers-Oscar Piper series, and the second film in which ZaSu Pitts appeared as Hildegarde. Before Pitts, Edna May Oliver and Helen Broderick had played the role.
Gunsight Ridge is a 1957 American Western film directed by Francis D. Lyon and written by Talbot Jennings and Elisabeth Jennings. The film stars Joel McCrea, Mark Stevens, Joan Weldon, Addison Richards, Darlene Fields and Carolyn Craig. The film was released in September 1957, by United Artists.