Cast & Crew
Joseph Allen Jr.
Sir Humphrey Quilp, a former chief of Scotland Yard now retired in the New York countryside, is driving in his electric automobile with his friend, Dr. Anatole Duprex, when they arrive at the scene of a terrible car accident. As policemen put out the fire caused by the accident, Humphrey and Anatole tend to young Robert Berwick, a math professor who was hit on the head during the car's collision with a tree. The car's driver, Robert's uncle Patrick, is dead. The next day, after examining the evidence, Assistant District Attorney William Knox and police detective Eddie Regan conclude that Robert killed Patrick, then arranged the accident and his own injuries. Because it is Humphrey's seventieth birthday, Knox and Eddie decide to give him a present by way of letting him "solve" the case. To their surprise, however, Humphrey is convinced that Robert is innocent. From the x-ray of Patrick's skull, Humphrey determines that he was killed with a blow from a mace. Robert then tells Humphrey and Anatole that he and Patrick were going to see Patrick's brother, Thomas, a reclusive horticulturist. Robert recounts that Patrick hated visiting his brother's flower-filled house because of his terrible hay fever. While Humphrey, aided by Anatole, conducts his case, Eddie's respect for the old detective grows, as does his affection for Jean Mason, the niece of Humphrey's housekeeper, Frieda Mason. Knowing that he is about to be arrested by Knox, Robert escapes from the hospital and goes to Humphrey's house, where the old gentleman gladly hides him. Humphrey and Anatole then go to Thomas' house, where they learn from Joseph, the gardener, that he has been fired after twenty years of faithful service. They also learn that Thomas is selling his estate, allegedly out of grief over his brother's death. Humphrey's suspicions grow when he mentions several exotic varieties of bees to Thomas, and Thomas assumes that he is talking about flowers. The detective persuades Thomas to come to his home that evening to discuss buying his estate, and leaves with Anatole, after he has gotten Anatole to steal a mace displayed in the hallway. Humphrey ascertains that the mace was the murder weapon, then, to the amazement of Anatole and Jean, fills the house with honeysuckle flowers. As the flowers' strong scent perfumes the air, Thomas arrives. He immediately begins to sneeze violently and Humphrey points out that it was Patrick, not Thomas, who had hay fever. Humphrey explains that it was Thomas who was killed, by Patrick, and that Patrick has been impersonating his brother in order to gain the money from the estate sale. Patrick attempts to escape through the back door but is foiled by Humphrey and Anatole's bee hives, with which they blocked the pathway. Patrick is arrested, and after Robert is cleared, Humphrey happily declares that this birthday was the nicest he ever had.
Joseph Allen Jr.
Although Dorothy Lovett's character is referred to as "Jane Mason" by contemporary sources, she is called "Jean Mason" in the film.