Murder on a Bridle Path (1936)

As common as crime may seem in the bustling streets of a city that never sleeps, it’s not every day that dead bodies turn up in Central Park. But that’s just what happens one day when the body of Violet Feverel (Sheila Terry) is discovered on a bridle path.

Inspector Oscar Piper (James Gleason) is on the case, and he suspects Violet was accidentally killed by being thrown from a horse. But Oscar’s friend Hildegarde Withers (Helen Broderick), an amateur sleuth, has other ideas. She finds Violet’s horse and notices that there is a splatter of blood on the horse’s shoulder — something that could only have happened if Violet were killed while on or standing next to the horse.

(Image via Listal)
(Image via Listal)

When the coroner confirms Hildegarde’s idea that Violet’s death was caused by head trauma, a number of suspects emerge: Violet’s ex-husband Don (Leslie Fenton), the manager of the stables (John Carroll), and the boyfriend of Violet’s sister (Owen Davis, Jr.).

Hildegarde continues her sleuthing in hopes to figure out which of these three men is the culprit.

Murder on a Bridle Path was directed by William Hamilton and Edward Killy, produced by RKO and released in 1936. The film was written for the screen by Dorothy Yost, Edmund North, Thomas Lennon and James Gow from a novel by Stuart Palmer.

I’m a big fan of minor mysteries, so I had a decent level of expectation for fun going into this film, especially after reading in the synopsis that it would be full of red herrings. Unfortunately, I wound up disappointed.

(Image via worldscinema.org)
(Image via worldscinema.org)

I generally like my mystery films one of two ways: ultra suspenseful, or led by quirky and charismatic detectives. While Hildegard (Helen Broderick) has more spunk than her copilot Oscar, neither of them are bundles of fun to watch.

And without charismatic leads, there’s nothing too special about this film. The story is predictable and lacking suspense. It follows the standard light mystery trajectory, but without any of the humor or excitement that usually save the stereotypical films of this genre from failing.

With dull performances and quite a slow pace, Murder on a Bridle Path feels much longer than it actually is. The runtime is just over an hour, but it feels like three. Skip this one unless you’re devoted to watching every single minor mystery film ever made. The score: 0.5/5

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2 thoughts on “Murder on a Bridle Path (1936)

  1. Wow Lindsey…an ‘Invasion of the Star Creatures’ rating! But one comment you made makes perfect sense: “Without charismatic leads, there’s nothing too special about this film.” I feel the same way; I just watched one, a mystery called ‘Crack-Up’, where the lead was a real jerk, in my opinion, and his character and performance ruined the whole film for me. So yeah, I’ll be skipping this one, bloody horse and all.

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    1. Performances/casting choices can really make a break or film. Even if this one had a stellar script it would have been dull. Good choice in avoiding it!

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