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The Photoplay Edition of "The Canary Murder Case"

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'Canary Murder Case' dust wrapper

Although the plot of The Canary Murder Case (Paramount, 1928) revolves around Margaret Odell (the "Canary"), a "famous Broadway beauty and ex-Follies girl, who was mysteriously murdered in her apartment," the photoplay edition (New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, [1928]) contains no stills of Louise Brooks. The only representations of her character are a card from the NYPD index of homicides drawn on the front of the dust wrapper and her strewn clothing shown in the frontispiece.

'Canary Murder Case' illustration & title page

A possible explanation for the omission of Brooks' image may be that the compilers didn't want to show her famous hairdo. The Philo Vance mystery refers to the Canary's "mass of shining golden hair," which most certainly doesn't describe Brooks' "black helmet." It should be noted that the hair didn't prevent Brooks from being presented in advertisements and showcards.

Jean Arthur & Louise Brooks in 'The Canary Murder Case'

For those who are disappointed in the Photoplay edition's stills, here are Jean Arthur (1905-1991) and Louise Brooks in a scene from The Canary Murder Case, reproduced from Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, ed. Roland Jaccard, trans. Gideon Y. Schein (New York: Zoetrope, [1986]), p. [85].

A 1955 edition of the The "Canary" Murder Case (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), while supplemented by a "Publisher's Note" and "Twenty Rules for Writing Dective Stories" by S. S. Van Dine (the pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright), no reference is made to Brooks--or to the motion picture, for that matter. Apparently both had been forgotten.

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Last Modified: Jan 12, 2007 - 09:58

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