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Murder in the Private Car (1934)

Ruth Raymond works on the switchboard and her boyfriend is John Blake. It has taken 14 years, but a detective named Murray has found her and confirmed that she is Ruth Carson. As a child, ... See full summary »


Harry Beaumont


Ralph Spence (screen play), Edgar Allan Woolf (screen play) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Charles Ruggles ... Godfrey D. Scott (as Charlie Ruggles)
Una Merkel ... Georgia Latham
Mary Carlisle ... Ruth Raymond
Russell Hardie ... John Blake
Porter Hall ... Alden Murray
Willard Robertson ... Elwood Carson aka Hanks
Berton Churchill ... Luke Carson
Clifford Thompson ... Allen (as Cliff Thompson)
Fred 'Snowflake' Toones ... Titus (as Snowflake)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Semels Harry Semels ... Evil Eye (scenes deleted)


Ruth Raymond works on the switchboard and her boyfriend is John Blake. It has taken 14 years, but a detective named Murray has found her and confirmed that she is Ruth Carson. As a child, she was kidnaped by her uncle and is the daughter of a wealthy railroad tycoon. Under the watchful eye of Godfrey D. Scott, an attempt on her life is foiled. But a fake telegram put her on a private railroad car heading east. It is in this car that her life is again in danger and people are murdered. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Mystery | Romance


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Release Date:

29 June 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Última Carruagem See more »

Filming Locations:

Dunsmuir, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Charles Ruggles was borrowed from Paramount to replace Charles Butterworth due to illness. See more »


When the train pulls into the Holton station, there is a shot between it and a stationary train when an odd fading jump cut is made. The people walking between the trains change, as does the position of the train pulling in on the left. See more »


Georgia Latham: You know this love thing causes so much trouble, you wonder what makes it so popular.
See more »


Version of Red Lights (1923) See more »

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User Reviews

Delightful trifle - even while asking "what were they thinking!?"
15 May 2007 | by escheticSee all my reviews

Seldom will the words "what were they thinking?!" come to mind while enjoying a film as often as while watching this pseudo-mystery from the early days of sound at MGM - though not as early as the haphazard writing would suggest.

Enjoy it you will, however, as the odds and ends the entertainment are assembled from are largely quality remainders, borrowed from all kinds of other films than the mystery the title leads one to expect.

Who knows what the original mystery play ("The Rear Car") the film is based on was really like? It lacked sufficient merit to make it to Broadway (neither did "Everybody Comes To Rick's," but that didn't seem to hurt CASABLANCA much), but the stagy "thriller" aspects of the center part of the film suggest that the tossed in ingredients didn't hurt it any.

Chief among the "tossed in" ingredients is Charlie Ruggles' Godfrey Scott, a supposed "detective" occupied far more with the kind of bumbling burlesque comedy Ruggles had been perfecting since his movie debut back in 1914 (and would continue to mine right up until his death in 1970). By the 1930's Ruggles was a well recognized Hollywood commodity in such hits as Brandon Thomas' CHARLEY'S AUNT, THE SMILING LIEUTENANT, LOVE ME TONIGHT and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. MURDER IN THE PRIVATE CAR must have seemed a decidedly second tier assignment to the comedian, but he gave it his all . . . though the biggest laugh in the script may come in the credits - "Edgar Allan Woolf," one of the co-writers was clearly named after Edgar Allan POE, the founder of the modern mystery format with his "C. Auguste Dupin stories in the 1840's! So much for legitimate mystery credentials in this film.

The silly plot (a lost heiress found and at risk) had already been the subject of too many musicals and farces to be taken entirely seriously, and the film makers don't spend to much time seriously laying out the clues and red herrings even though the golden age of the murder mystery was near its peak. Instead, they pull out the stops with cinema-friendly special effects like runaway trains and (never explained) secret panels.

It starts and remains a supremely silly hodge podge, but fun nonetheless for all but the serious mystery fan the title seems to want to attract. Watch for Ruggles and Una Merkle, and don't worry so much about the title murder(s) and a good time is to be had.

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