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Murder by Television (1935)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 October 1935 (USA)
James Houghland, inventor of a new method by which television signals can be instantaneously sent anywhere in the world, refuses to sell the process to television companies, who then send ... See full summary »


Clifford Sanforth


Joseph O'Donnell (screenplay), Clarence Hennecke (idea) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Bela Lugosi ... Dr. Arthur Perry / Edwin Perry
June Collyer ... June Houghland
Huntley Gordon ... Dr. Henry M. Scofield (as Huntly Gordon)
George Meeker ... Richard Grayson
Henry Mowbray Henry Mowbray ... Nelson - Chief of Police
Charles Hill Mailes ... Prof. James Houghland
Claire McDowell ... Mrs. Houghland
Hattie McDaniel ... Isabella - the Cook
Allen Jung ... Ah Ling - the Houseboy (as Allan Jung)
Charles K. French ... Donald M. Jordan
Larry Francis Larry Francis ... Mendoza
Henry Hall ... Hammond
Billy Sullivan Billy Sullivan ... Reardon - Watchman (as William 'Billy' Sullivan)
William H. Tooker William H. Tooker ... Allen (as William Tooker)


James Houghland, inventor of a new method by which television signals can be instantaneously sent anywhere in the world, refuses to sell the process to television companies, who then send agents to acquire the invention any way they can. On the night of his initial broadcast Houghland is mysteriously murdered in the middle of his demonstration and it falls to Police Chief Nelson to determine who the murderer is from the many suspects present. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An IMPERIAL-CAMEO PRODUCTION (original poster) See more »


Mystery | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 October 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Houghland Murder Case See more »


Box Office


$35,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cameo Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to a date (03 January 1935) printed on the telegram shown during the climax of the story, the main action of the film takes place during the first week of January 1935. See more »


When Isabella (the cook) finds the body at the top of the stairs, she simply disappears into thin air. (This may be due to missing footage in the extant print, rather than an error by the original filmmakers.) See more »


[first lines]
Hammond: Have you been holding that wire to the coast open?
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Featured in Rumble Fish (1983) See more »


I Had the Right Idea
Music and Lyrics by Oliver Wallace
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Bela times two - with a television thrown in...
25 January 2007 | by jwpeel-1See all my reviews

When one watches an old B movie from one of the poverty row studios, you should go in cutting a little slack. This picture, even with that mea culpa, does not fare well. Bela Lugosi does an excellent job in the acting department, but up against the passionless talking automatons in this turkey, Huntz Hall would come off as Laurence Olivier.

The story is simple. Watching a TV broadcast, a man suddenly chokes and dies on camera. (He probably wanted to get out of this waste of celluloid as soon as possible.) Now, the room full of people are all suspects, and the cops close up the house until the crime is solved.

Besides moving along so slowly that the hour length seems interminable, this isn't the only sin the producers made on this curio. The usual banter with racial stereotypes is embarrassing to say the least. From the Chinese houseboy who rattles off Charlie Chan and Confucious sayings so badly you can't understand his words half the time, to Hattie McDaniell slipping up and even using proper English for a moment when the writing for her character has the usual "negro" speech patterns, it is a textbook example of how racist a time the 1930s were.

It is probably because of bad movies like this that Mr, Lugosi's career went into such a tailspin that eventually took his life. Yet, he does acquit himself nicely in the acting department here playing not only a scientist but his own twin (though the two Belas never share a scene due, I suspect, to a dismally low budget) The fact that the film is so horrendous and wastes a great opportunity to utilize the budding medium of television And even the solution to the mystery is the pits. I won't give a spoiler here, but there IS no way to spoil this ending. It was pitiful - along with the rest of this script.

On top of all this, the copies that exist are so bad and have many jump-cuts throughout. A true shame and waste of the legendary Bela Lugosi.

Finally, I wonder if this director had much of a career beyond this joke of a studio that most likely was owned by some theater chain (as many such studios did prior to the anti-trust laws.) He probably went into accounting or some other less creative field.

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