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Birds of Prey (film)

Birds of Prey
Directed by Basil Dean
Produced by Basil Dean
Written by A.A. Milne[1]
Basil Dean[1]
Starring Dorothy Boyd
Robert Loraine
Warwick Ward
C. Aubrey Smith
Frank Lawton
Music by Ernest Irving[1]
Cinematography Jack MacKenzie[1]
Robert G. Martin[1]
Edited by Jack Kitchin[2]
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release dates
  • November 18, 1930 (1930-11-18) (Premiere-UK)[1]
  • April 1, 1931 (1931-04-01) (US)[2]
Running time 98 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Birds of Prey, also known in the United States as The Perfect Alibi, is a 1930 British mystery film produced and directed by Basil Dean, from a screenplay he co-wrote with A.A. Milne from Milne's play which was known as The Perfect Alibi in the United States and The Fourth Wall in the United Kingdom. The film starred Dorothy Boyd, Robert Loraine, Warwick Ward, C. Aubrey Smith, and Frank Lawton. and starring Robert Loraine, Warwick Ward and Frank Lawton, and was produced at Beaconsfield Studios by Associated Talking Pictures.[3]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7


At his country estate, Arthur Hilton (C. Aubrey Smith) is regaling his dinner guests of his exploits as a police officer decades earlier in Africa. He keys in a case where he had to track down a gang of three men who were suspected of a series of murders. He does stumble on them, but they actually end up capturing him. Fortunately, he was able to talk his way out of that predicament, and later on tracked them down again and captured them. One was hung for his crimes, while the other two were sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Little does Hilton know that two of his dinner guests, Edward Laverick (Warwick Ward) and Edward Carter (Robert Loraine), are the two men who he sent to prison. They have vowed revenge, and prior to dinner, they exact it, killing Hilton. However, they have planned it to look like a suicide on the part of the elderly aristocrat. Initially, their plot seems successful, as the local constables who arrive to investigate the incident buy into the suicide scenario.

Hilton's nephew, Jimmy Hilton (Frank Lawton), and his girlfriend Mollie (Dorothy Boyd), who also happens to be the ward of the elder Hilton, become suspicious of the story told by the two men, and begin their own investigation. Their questioning leads them to arrive at the truth, and the two murderers are apprehended.


(Cast list as per AFI and BFI databases)[1][2]


Mordaunt Hall, of the The New York Times, gave the film a lukewarm review, praising several of the players, particularly Smith and Ward, while questioning the abilities of some of the other actors, such as Loraine. He felt the direction was uneven, stating the overall production, "... may not be endowed with imaginative direction, but, because of the author's intriguing story and C. Aubrey Smith's excellent performance, it succeeds in being an entertaining study of a cool, calculating murderer.[4]


Rupert Downing also contributed to the screenplay.[5]

The film's art direction was by Clifford Pember.[2]

Jack Hawkins made his screen debut in this film.[1][2]

The play on which this film is based was produced in London at the Haymarket Theatre in 1928.[6] The play, under the title, The Perfect Alibi, was produced on Broadway at the Charles Hopkins Theatre on Broadway from November 1928 through July 1929.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Birds of Prey". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Perfect Alibi: Detail View". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ Wood p.69
  4. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (April 20, 1931). "The Perfect Alibi: A Careful Murderer". New York Times. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Downing, Rupert (1940). If I Laugh. London: George G Harrap. p. 2. 
  6. ^ Kershaw, Baz (2004). The Cambridge History of British Theatre: Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 160. 
  7. ^ "The Perfect Alibi". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 


  • Low, Rachael. Filmmaking in 1930s Britain. George Allen & Unwin, 1985.
  • Perry, George. Forever Ealing. Pavilion Books, 1994.
  • Wood, Linda. British Films, 1927-1939. British Film Institute, 1986.

External links

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