Movie Monday: July 15, 1934

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Fifteen Wives Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Eighty-five years ago, today, the crime-drama mystery Fifteen Wives was released. Directed by Frank Strayer and produced by Maury Cohen, it starred Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Raymond Hatton, Noel Francis, John Wray, Margaret Dumont, Ralf Harolde, Oscar Apfel, Robert Frazer, Harry Bradley and Lew Kelly.

In a New York hotel, the body of Steven Humbolt is discovered and Chief Inspector Decker Dawes is called to investigate. After a brief inspection of Humbolt’s belongings, Dawes and Sergeant Meed determine that Humbolt had fifteen wives, three of whom…Sybilla Crum, a well-known reformer, wealthy Carol Arnold, and Ruby Cotton…live in New York. Dawes first questions the still devoted Sybilla, then quizzes Jason Getty, a florist who had sent Humbolt a funeral wreath hours before his death was discovered. While Meed checks out Getty’s lead that the wreath was ordered in Philadelphia, Dawes interrogates Carol Arnold. Carol tells Dawes that Humbolt had robbed, and deserted her, after three weeks of marriage and, that, a year later, she had received a letter from South America informing her of his demise. Just after Carol had married wealthy Gregory Arnold, Humbolt contacted her with blackmail demands but, according to Carol, she never saw him before his murder. Although Dawes doubts Carol’s story, he leaves her to talk to a chemist about a broken glass globe that was found near Humbolt’s body.

Fifteen Wives Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com

The chemist reveals that the globe, a Helmholtz Resonator, contained a lethal dose of hydrocynanic acid gas that was released when the glass was broken. Once Dawes determines that the globe came from Philadelphia, he demonstrates how a radio performer known as The Electric Voice, whose fiancée is Ruby Cotton, could have broken the globe during a broadcast. Dawes arrests The Voice and Ruby but, returns to question Carol, who he discovers is hiding a child she had by Humbolt. Then, Dawes receives a message from Sybilla about a clue she unearthed at Humbolt’s funeral. While at Sybilla’s home, Dawes discovers that florist Getty is impersonating the reformer and that he is wearing a pair of gloves similar to a pair Humbolt was wearing in his coffin. Suspicious, Dawes orders Humbolt’s coffin exhumed, which causes Getty, who needed the gloves to hide his amputated fingers, to panic. [He] confesses that he killed Sybilla and had used The Electric Voice’s broadcast to kill Humbolt out of revenge for stealing his wife in Australia. After thwarting Getty’s escape attempt, Dawes telephones Carol, who is divorcing [Gregory] Arnold and proposes that they leave for Europe together.

[Source]

Disclamer:
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and Wikipedia state that this film was released July 15, 1934. The American Film Institute (AFI) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) state that it was released June 1, 1934. I have no way of verifying either. I also can’t find any video clips. ~Vic

7 thoughts on “Movie Monday: July 15, 1934

    badfinger20 said:
    July 16, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Never heard of this one…I was wondering if Natalie was related to Agnes but I don’t think she was…
    Margaret Dumont was in this one… she was in almost all of the Marx Brothers movies…she played the straight man to them.

    floatinggold said:
    July 18, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    15 wives? Haven’t seen it, but must be a great headache.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      July 24, 2019 at 2:09 am

      I’d never heard of it. The antagonist was dead, so…

    jmshistorycorner said:
    August 5, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    Sounds interesting.
    (P.S. Just yesterday watched The Da Vinci Code & loved it!)

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      August 31, 2019 at 12:39 am

      Dan Brown has no idea just how close to the truth he is.

      It is a great movie. So is Angels & Demons.

        jmshistorycorner said:
        August 31, 2019 at 1:05 am

        Love all 3 movies – and the novel Angels & Demons.
        Brown seems to get a few facts wrong – the “woman” in Da Vinci’s painting is actually John, the Priory of Zion is a modern organisation that faked its history, the Council of Nicea didn’t vote on the canon or create Jesus’ divinity, etc. And of course a couple who lived 2000 years ago and became the ancestors of a French royal dynasty wouldn’t have just on living descendant!
        BUT it’s a good (and thought-provoking) piece of fiction, and the basic premise is accurate.

        jmshistorycorner said:
        August 31, 2019 at 1:06 am

        (I meant to say “a good (and thought provoking) movie.”)

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