Move Review: The Penguin Pool Murder (1932)

Synopsis: While taking her students on a field trip to a New York City aquarium, teacher Hildegarde Withers ends up helping police investigate the murder of a wealthy stockbroker who is found dead in the penguin pool after getting into a physical confrontation with his wife's ex-boyfriend.

Who's in it? The movie stars Edna May OliverRobert ArmstrongJames GleasonMae Clarke and Donald Cook.


Review: After watching Murder on the Blackboard earlier this week, I found I enjoyed watching Miss Withers (Oliver) so much, I wanted to see the movie that preceded it. I was fortunately able to add it to my library and watch it last night.

As was the case with the other movie, I found I enjoyed watching Miss Withers piece together the clues in this mystery. She had such a good combination of brains and comedic wit, it was just fun watching her. I especially love how she wasn't afraid to speak her mind, whether it was criticism of Inspector Piper's (Gleason) police work or admonishing a random woman for wearing too much makeup.

The mystery itself was interesting because there were a number of possible suspects with both motive and opportunity. This included the banker's wife (Clarke), who was trying to leave him, her ex-boyfriend (Cook), who dragged the victim into the pool after knocking him unconscious and the head of the aquarium, who had financial dealings with the victim. 

Even Withers herself was considered a suspect because of how the victim was murdered and the movie even attempted to at least create the possibility she had the murder weapon on her. In fact, had I not known about the sequel, I'm not convinced I wouldn't have considered her a legitimate suspect who was just helping the police to cover her trail.

While the mystery was fairly simple and fast-paced, with no real twists and turns, I did find it wasn't quite as predictable as other murder mysteries might be. I was able to guess at who the killer was, for example, but wasn't 100 percent sure of that person's murder until the very end and, even then, was kind of surprised at how the movie did end.

Final Opinion: This is a fast paced and clever classic murder mystery with a fun protagonist. If you have the opportunity to watch it, I would recommend it.

My Grade: A

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