Scottie “Movie Star” Power

 A Scottie Detective Adventure.

The Kennel Murder Case

Starring- William Powell & Mary Astor


  • A Warner Bros. film version of The Kennel Murder Case appeared in 1933.  The film was directed by Michael Curtiz, (Casablanca) and starred William Powell as Philo Vance, reprising the role after appearing as Vance in three films for Paramount, and Mary Astor as Hilda Lake, the victims’ niece.  Many film historians, (including William K. Everson, pronounced it a “masterpiece” in the August 1984 issue of Films in Review) consider it one of the greatest screen adaptations of a Golden Age mystery novel, and rank it with the 1946 film Green for Danger.

Talented detective Mr. Philo Vance, (William Powell) a dog owner who shows his Scottie Terrier, cancels his overseas trip to investigate an apparently cut and dried case of suicide he has good reason to suspect is really something much more, a rather deliciously complex murder!   As far as murder mystery films go, it just doesn’t get any better than this one.  Populated with suspicious characters, all connected to a Scottie Terrier Show and all having very good reason to murder the apparent suicide victim Archer Coe, it’s truly tough to figure this one out or wrap one’s head around it but boy, does it proves fascinating to watch unfold before us.  Even the cops, the coroner and the district attorney prove colorful, fleshed out characters adding a level of unexpected gritty realism to this one’s proceedings and ramping up its overall “fun” factor.   I particularly enjoyed the comic scenes involving the coroner (played by Etienne Girardot), who is always it seems to him being rudely and untimely interrupted by the discovery of corpses or injured men during this one’s running time.   Also Eugene Palette’s Detective Sgt. Heath provides welcome, often later delightfully humorous at his expense, critical commentary during Vance’s investigation.  I cannot think of any valid criticism to give this movie in fact except perhaps that it hasn’t dated particularly well.  Doesn’t stop the movie from being just plain good fun viewing though.  Watch and see if you can wrap your head around this one’s mystery.  Highly recommended you try!


The Kennel Murder Case is a 1933 murder mystery novel written by S. S. Van Dine with fictional detective Philo Vance investigating a complex locked room mystery.  One of the Coe brothers is found dead in his bedroom, locked from the inside, and the other brother is found the next morning dead in the downstairs closet.  There is also the clue of a wounded Doberman Pinscher, a mysteriously broken piece of priceless Chinese porcelain, and a cast of suspicious family members, servants and associates.  Philo Vance solves the case based on his knowledge of dog breeding, Chinese porcelain and the annals of remarkable antique crimes.  According to the 1936 introduction to the novel, in the omnibus Philo Vance Murder Cases, the two halves were written nearly a year apart.  Several real-life friends of author S. S. Van Dine appear as themselves in the second half of the novel.  “Though dogs can be dangerous in life and in detection, this imbroglio by the precious and pedantic Van Dine is rather better than the rest of those written after 1930.  It is a locked-room murder, there are clues, and Vance is not obnoxious beyond endurance.”

  • S. S. Van Dine (also styled S.S. Van Dine) is the pseudonym used by American art critic Willard Huntington Wright, (October 15, 1888 – April 11, 1939) when he wrote detective novels.


[Wright was an important figure in avant-garde cultural circles in pre-WWI New York, and under the pseudonym, (which he originally used to conceal his identity) he created the once immensely popular fictional detective Philo Vance, a sleuth and aesthete who first appeared in books in the 1920s, then in movies and on the radio.

Embarrassed by his turn from intellectual pursuits to mass market fiction, Wright never wanted to publish under his own name.  He took his pseudonym from the abbreviation of “steamship” and from Van Dine, which he claimed was an old family name.  According to Loughery, however, “there are no Van Dines evident in the family tree” (p. 176).  He went on to write twelve mysteries in total, though their author’s identity was unmasked by 1928.  The first few books about the distinctive Philo Vance (who shared with his creator a love of art and a disdain for the common touch) were so popular that Wright became wealthy for the first time in his life.  His readership was diverse and worldwide. David Shavit’s study of WWII POW reading habits revealed that Vance was one of the favorite detectives among officer POWs.]

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Star Power is the power of one’s presence, either through endorsements, popularity or vote of confidence in said person that often lends itself to strongly influencing a certain decision or state of indecisiveness has Star Power.  In friend settings, the strength of one’s star power is usually determined by how close and popular a particular friend is, in comparison to the strength they may have in persuading another individual’s actions contrary to their initial thoughts.

We might attribute our lack of understanding of the concept of charisma to the paucity of the language we use.  We commonly say that individuals “possess” charisma.  This is correct in at least one way: charisma is undoubtedly localized in certain individuals.  But it is principally an interpersonal phenomenon.  Imagine, for instance, a man or woman all alone on a desert island: in what way would it make sense to say that they possess charisma?  That charisma always encompasses more than simply its “possessor” suggests that we might be better off trading our individualistic understanding of the concept for one grounded in the notion of individuality.  A handful of anthropologists have used this term to describe the understandings of persons in other, often indigenous cultures as being sites of intersection, products of interrelationality rather than the isolated, impermeable, and autonomous individuals existing within Western culture’s pointillist notion of the self in society, a scatter-plot of isolated, independent individuals.

But even though this conceptualization of person-hood exists largely unchallenged on a rational level in the West, we maintain a common-sense, individualistic understanding of charisma on a more intuitive level.  There are a number of people who play valued roles in our society whom we describe as charismatic almost as part of their job description.  Most obvious, of course, are entertainers, particularly actors and pop stars.  Although we have seen that the skills of one of these roles do not always translate seamlessly to the other, they do have a lot in common.  Their work is highly performative, for one, and they also tend to inspire reactions from fans that we might regard as somewhat peculiar, ranging from dedicated devotion to outright obsession.  In a sense, the audience completes the construction of the actor or pop star’s aura: imagine for a moment the uncanny, desolate spectacle of a pop star performing to a completely empty arena.

Far from this world of entertainment, though not so dissimilar, is the range of charismatic leaders, from politicians to religious figures.  We often lament the role personality plays in elections, but there’s no doubt that charisma is often crucial to the work of a politician.  And perhaps, with a better understanding of charisma, we might understand this phenomenon a little better and see its utility.  After all, there is value in so-called “emotional” knowledge (a descriptor that mistakenly relegates the interpersonal to the subjective) because we can be so easily tricked through cold rationality, we often find it more trustworthy to assess others through our intuitive feelings about them, capable of seeing what reason cannot.  The false persona’s that easily deceive the purely rational mind can be transcended in this way, with charisma serving as a channel through which people project their being outward so that it envelops those in their presence and directly conveys some interpersonal truth about them, which cannot be concealed behind a mask.  It’s clear that the awesome power of charisma can be used just as purposefully by religious leaders, who must also project their worthiness to the congregation in much the same manner.

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Scottie Heaven

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FYI – We are very proud to be a breeder of American Kennel Club Scottish Terriers, (AKC).  The American Kennel Club has hundreds of generations of their dogs on file. Non-A.K.C. registries do not inspect kennels, nor do they maintain generational information. If you purchase a puppy that is not A.K.C. registered, you are probably supporting a puppy mill. Inexperienced breeders and puppy mill’s will attempt to sell puppies which have their dew claws because of the cost and responsibility of removal. In most cases they were born at home and have never seen a Veterinarian selling below  $1,700.00  without a pedigree or traceable health lineage. (Sadly, some of these puppies only live 4-8 years.)
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