The Law of Contact

Red Haired Alibi (October 21, 1932)

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Shirley Temple in Red Haired Alibi

Released on October 21, 1932: A young girl in the big city is swept off her feet by a wealthy man who hires her to be his companion, and she doesn't know until it is too late that he is a notorious gangster.

Directed by Christy Cabanne

The Actors: Merna Kennedy (Lynn Monith), Theodore von Eltz (Trent Travers), Grant Withers (Bob Shelton), Purnell Pratt (Police Inspector Regan), Huntley Gordon (Police Captain Kent), Fred Kelsey (Detective Corcoran), Arthur Hoyt (Henri), Paul Porcasi (Margoli), John Vosburgh (Morgan), Shirley Temple (Gloria Shelton), Harry Bowen (Travers' henchman), Lynton Brent (Travers' henchman), Harrison Greene (Harry, Silver Moon Maitre D'), Maynard Holmes (beer garden singer), Marion Lessing (Miss Bee Lee), Spec O'Donnell (Tommy).


The Law of Contact

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Suave leading man Theodore von Eltz is gangster Trent Travers, and while in a city that is not New York, he meets a quiet young red haired girl working at the hotel perfume counter, and he buys her perfume and invites her to dinner. He discovers that she doesn't drink and doesn't smoke, and has all of the virtues that we would attach to a country girl. But Lynn Monith, played by Merna Kennedy, is no country girl. She is saavy to big city ways, and 'knows how to keep her mouth shut.' Travers and Lynn hit it off and he tells her that anytime she wants a job in New York City that she always has one with him. The hotel she works in is closing, and she is in need of a job, so she makes her way to New York looking for work. When she calls Travers he is happy to hear from her, and offers her a job immediately. He sets her up in an apartment, and gives her a pile of money to buy new clothes with. Her job? She is to be available at any time to be his companion whenever he needs one. Now there is nothing sexual about this, only business. From time to time he needs to have a companion for dinner, or for parties - a girl that can look and act sophisticated, and 'keep her mouth shut' when he is talking with others, or when he disappears for a while.

This is working out well until one night she discovers that he is a gangster, and after killing a competitor dumps the murder weapon in her lap and asks her to get rid of the gun, and 'keep her mouth shut,' while he gets out of town. Lynn is disillusioned and decides to leave Travers, and after a chat with the police, heads for White Plains, New York. Why White Plains? Well, when she first got to New York City she met a man whose wife just left him, and she goes to the Follies with him. She remembers that he is from White Plains, and goes there looking for work. They meet, and he offers her a job as a nanny watching his little girl, Shirley Temple . . . er . . . I mean little Gloria Shelton. This movie is Shirley Temple's first appearance in a full length motion picture, and made around the time that she made the rarely seen comedy short 'War Babies' where her name is also Gloria. Her movie experience during this and the next year are mostly in comedy shorts, except for this role.

So anyway, back to our story. Lynn lives and works for Bob Shelton, taking care of little Gloria, and after a while he asks her to marry him. All goes well until one day Bob and Lynn must go to New York City for business. Lynn is apprehensive about being in New York City again, and afraid of seeing Travers, but they go anyway. Of course, Travers sees her, and he is in a bit of a pickle, so he follows them back to White Plains and blackmails her into helping him escape the cops. He wants her to get him ten thousand dollars so he can get far away for a while, and threatens to tell her new husband about her past with a gangster if she doesn't cooperate, and also to frame her for the murder that he committed..

Things are looking very bad for Lynn, and it looks like Travers is going to trap her into a crime situation again, and ruin both her marriage and her life. And worse yet for Lynn, when she refuses to help Travers anyway, he picks up the phone and calls the police to turn her in for the murder that he committed, but as he is calling, she pulls out a gun and shoots him dead as a door nail. Now it looks like she really is a killer. Will she escape the punishment for killing Travers? Will she lose the happy home that she found in White Plains? Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter and see if little Shirley Temple will lose another mother, and be sucked into the dark underworld of gangsters and crime in the big city.