snapshot: The Lady who Dared (1931)

vt The Devil’s Playground

US / 57 minutes / bw / First National, Vitaphone Dir: William Beaudine Scr: Forrest Halsey, Kathryn Scola Story: Kenneth J. Saunders Cine: Tony Gaudio Cast: Billie Dove, Sidney Blackmer, Conway Tearle, Judith Vosselli, Cosmo Kyrle Bellew, Ivan Simpson, Lloyd Ingraham, Mathilde Comont.

Billie Dove as Margaret.

Charlie Townsend (Blackmer), US Vice-Consul to an unidentified South American country, takes his lovely wife Margaret (Dove) for granted, deserting her at every turn in favor of his duties. He doesn’t notice that, when internationally renowned big-game hunter Jack Norton (Tearle) arrives in town, there’s immediate electricity between Margaret and the newcomer.

Sidney Blackmer as Charlie.

Also in town is a top US Treasury Department agent, Farrell (Ingraham), who’s keen to Continue reading

Girl who Came Back, The (1935)

US / 67 minutes / bw / Chesterfield, First Division Dir: Charles Lamont Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Ewart Adamson Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Shirley Grey, Sidney Blackmer, Noel Madison, Mathew Betz, Torben Meyer, May Beatty, Frank LaRue, Ida Darling, Robert Adair, Edward Martindel, John Dilson, Don Brodie, Lew Davis.

Girl who Came Back - 0 opener

In New York, expert counterfeiter Gilda Gillespie (Grey) reads a line in a book that causes her to rethink her life: “It takes a tough guy to go straight.” She decides to give up her criminal career and get a—gasp!—job. But, when she goes to offer her resignation to the debonair artist-manqué head of the gang she belongs to, Hal Brewster (Madison), he goads her into doing One Last Job: robbing the safe of gem-collector Chester Madison (Martindel), a task that has defeated the ingenuity of Brewster’s henchmen, even though he counts among them genius cracksman Harry Sims (Davis).

Girl who Came Back - 2 Brewster wheedles with Gilda

Hal Brewster (Noel Madison) wheedles with Gilda (Shirley Grey).

Gilda gets the gems using a clever scam involving Continue reading

Missing Girls (1936)

US / 66 minutes / bw / Chesterfield Dir: Phil Rosen Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Martin Mooney, John Krafft Story: Martin Mooney Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Roger Pryor, Muriel Evans, Noel Madison, Sidney Blackmer, Ann Doran, Dewey Robinson, Wallis Clark, Cornelius Keefe, Ed. Keane, Oscar Apfel, Frank Sheridan, Matty Fain, George Cooper, Ben Carter, Frank LaRue, Ethel Clark, Lloyd Ingraham, Vera Lewis, Robert Fiske, Al Hill, John Dilson.Missing Gir;s 1936 - 0a openerMissing Girls 1936 - 0c opener optionMissing Girls 1936 - 0b opener option

After being struck by her father George (LaRue, no relation, so far as I can establish, of Jack La Rue, whose birth name was Gaspere Biondolillo) for going out on a date with “that Dixon boy,” Ann Jason (Doran) runs away from home and heads for the big city. There she finds work as a waitress, but when one day the boss tells her that in future she’ll be working for no wages, just tips, she turns in desperation to the Travelers Aid Society, a charity run by Dorothy Benson (Evans) to help all the unfortunate runaway women who’re seeking their fortune. Dorothy impulsively offers Ann a job as a Continue reading

Behind the Green Lights (1935)

US / 69 minutes / bw / Mascot Dir: Christy Cabanne Pr: Nat Levine, Colbert Clark Scr: James Gruen, Colbert Clark Story (supposedly): Behind the Green Lights (1931 memoir) by Captain Cornelius W. Willemse Cine: Ernest Miller, Jack Marta Cast: Norman Foster, Judith Allen, Purnell Pratt, Sidney Blackmer, Theodore von Eltz, Kenneth Thomson, Edward Gargan, Ford Sterling, John Davidson, Jane Meredith, J. Carrol Naish, John Ince.

This movie owes virtually nothing to its stated source, the memoir of NYPD cop Willemse, in which he happily justified the use by the department of techniques such as torture (“the third degree”) to extract confessions from suspects; he argued that this was reasonable procedure because it was only rarely that the innocent suffered. Torquemada used a similar line of reasoning.

The subtext of the movie is that, while 95% of lawyers are just fine, upstanding citizens, the rest are a bunch of shysters. Of one of these NYPD Lieutenant Jim Kennedy (Pratt) tells his lawyer daughter Mary (Allen) at a late stage in the movie, “He’s worse than a murderer, for he springs open the cage that lets these vultures loose on the world.” Unfortunately, the shyster Jim’s talking about is Raymond Cortell (Blackmer), who just happens to be Mary’s boss.

Behind the Green Lights

“I’ll marry you any time,” Mary tells Dave, but they reckon without her shyster boss.

The story seems often to have been written by a 12-year-old. Top-hatted louche Charles T. “Ritzy” Conrad (Thomaon) is brought into the precinct on a drunk and disorderly charge. Gem dealer John C. Owen (von Eltz) arrives on the scene to bail his supposed employee out. As this is happening, Detective Dave Britten (Foster) is, in another part of town, interviewing rich saucy widow Mrs. Gorham (Meredith) about an attempted robbery of her jewelry by a man she picked up, who hit her over the head with a quart whiskey bottle and made his escape. Dave realizes how well the description matches Conrad, a known thief whose m.o. includes the trick of creating a false alibi by getting picked up by the cops on a minor charge.

So far so good, as far as the plotting’s concerned, but this audience euphoria won’t last long. Smarmy shyster Raymond Cortell takes on the defense and Continue reading

Gallant Lady (1942)

vt Prison Girls

US / 68 minutes / bw / Motion Picture Associates, PRC Dir: William Beaudine Pr: Lester Cutler Scr: Arthur St. Claire Story: “Gallant Lady” (1939, Collier’s Magazine) by Octavus Roy Cohen Cine: Marcel Le Picard Cast: Rose Hobart, Sidney Blackmer, Claire Rochelle, Lynn Starr, Jane Novak, Vince Barnett, Jack Baxley, Crane Whitley, John Ince, Richard Clarke, Spec O’Donnell, Inez Cole, Ruby Dandridge, Henry Hastings.

Near the end of her sentence for having committed the mercy killing of a terminally ill, suffering patient who begged her for relief—a crime of which she is innocent—Dr. Rosemary Walsh (Hobart) gets dragged into a breakout mounted by fellow-prisoners Nellie (Rochelle) and Jane (Cole), with the outside aid of Nellie’s gangster boyfriend Nick Furelli (Clarke) and his sidekick Baldy O’Shea (Barnett). Jane goes her own way, and in due course Rosemary decides to give herself back up to the authorities. Nick hands her some money and tells her details of how to find him in NYC should she change her mind.

So that’s how this country doctoring is done!

Halfway back to the prison she indeed does change her mind. Pausing by a farmhouse, she discovers Continue reading