The Law of Contact

Postal Inspector (August 16, 1936)

Bela Lugosi in Postal Inspector

Released on August 16, 1936: This is the only musical that Bela Lugosi acted in. Postal Inspectors battle a flood to capture the gangster that stole a shipment of cash.

Directed by Otto Brower

The Actors: Ricardo Cortez (Inspector Bill Davis), Patricia Ellis (Connie Larrimore), Michael Loring (Charlie Davis), Bela Lugosi (Gregory Benez), Wallis Clark (Inspector Gene Richards), David Oliver (Butch), Guy Usher (Evans), Bill Burrud (Billy boy), Harry Beresford (Ritter), Spencer Charters (Grumpy), Alfonso Corelli (man calming crowd in nightclub), Frank Wilcox (Postmaster General), Harry Antrim (postmaster), Gertrude Astor (woman with drumsticks), James Blaine (police broadcaster), Don Brodie (reporter), Jack Byron (henchman driver), Mary Carr (Mrs. John Mead), Burr Caruth (Postmaster Long), Walter Clyde (reporter), Nick Copeland (head waiter), Bob Davis (pilot), Lester Dorr (truck driver), Flora Finch (the ugly fraud), Diana Gibson (unknown), Ann Gillis (little Alice), Anita Gordon (crying baby in plane), Malcolm Graham (mumbling man), Frances Gregg (head nurse), Ben Hall (mail clerk), William Hall (henchman Roach), Sibyl Harris (mother on plane), Paul Harvey (Police Lieutenant Ordway), Henry Hunter (co-pilot), Selmer Jackson (Chief Postal Inspector), John 'Dusty' King (Ralph), Stanley Mack (reporter), Hattie McDaniel (Deborah, Connie's maid), Margaret McWade (Mrs. Compton, old maid), Johnnie Morris (short man), Anne O'Neal (woman with nose machine), Lee Phelps (cop), Don Roberts (counter man), Marla Shelton (stewardess), Arthur Singley (ground operator), Landers Stevens (Doctor Doyle), Albert Taylor (mail clerk), Jimmy Vandiveer (radio announcer), Russell Wade (unknown), Larry Wheat (nrevous passenger), Buddy Williams (busboy), Dorothea Wolbert (Mrs. Coates).


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Bela Lugosi is famous for his Transylvania accent which he used in many horror films. He was born in Hungary, in a town that is now part of Romania. But for all of his famous horror roles, he never, ever acted in a musical . . . . . er . . . . . except for this one time, in 1936, when he played the part of a nightclub owner / gangster. That's right, a regular, run of the mill gin joint gangster - and every once in a while the stars break out in a song about painting rainbows on their shower curtains and blue birds on their wall paper. Sure it is a bit schmaltzy, but it is also a fun fifty seven minutes of post office action. We learn about the get rich quick schemes, the 'grow hair' with this magical machine, the work from home and make a fortune racket, and a lot more swindles by mail that sound pretty lame to us but might have been a big surprise to 1936 Americans.

In the beginning of the movie, we supposedly hear President Roosevelt by phone exhorting the new postal inspectors on the importance of their jobs. Well, I also collect old radio programs, including some fire side chats from President Roosevelt, and the voice in the movie doesn't sound much like Roosevelt. I wonder if movie audiences in 1936 were fooled? Anyway . . . . crack agent Bill Davis goes back to his home town to be the postal inspector, and make sure that the mail gets through, no matter what. His brother works for a bank, and is sending millions of dollars of worn out bills back to Washington to be destroyed. His brother's girlfriend is Broadway star Connie Larrimore, who just got a job in town singing in the big night club owned by Bela Lugosi. She innocently tells Lugosi about the shipment of old bills and since he is in need of some quick cash, he robs the mail truck with the money on it.

Did I mention that there is a devastating flood at just about this time? Sure, and it makes for some quick and steady alternate plans by super-inspector Davis to make sure that the post office remains open and the mail gets through. And after we are thoroughly impressed with the great efficiency of our mail experts, and awed by their dedication and passion, we get another rendition of our rainbow and blue bird song. But what is kinda interesting is the big crime chase. It is always fun to watch old 1930's cars racing through big city streets in crime chase scenes, but if you remember, there is a terrible flood going on, so what are we treated to in this light thriller? Speed boats, of course! Yes, speed boats racing through flooded city streets surreally rounding corners and racing between downtown stores. Very cool! You will enjoy the action in the final chase scene almost as much as you have been enjoying your white kernel popcorn during the movie.