Missing Girls (September 10, 1936)
Released on September 10, 1936: A senator is killed and his daughter kidnapped along with her girlfriend, so the girl's reporter boyfriend uncovers the mob hideout and rescues the girls, with the help of the G-men.
Directed by Phil Rosen
Written by Martin Mooney and John W. Krafft.
The Actors: Roger Pryor (Jimmy Dugan, reporter), Muriel Evans (Dorothy Benson), Sidney Blackmer (Dan Collins), Noel Madison (Ben Davis), Ann Doran (Ann Jason), George Cooper (Zig), Dewey Robinson (Harry Wilson), Wallis Clark (Senator Benson), Vera Lewis (Ma Barton), Warner Richmond (Ray Hanson), Joe Barton (pawnbroker), Harry Bowen (Willie), Lynton Brent (Larry), Don Brodie (Chuck Martin), Frank Bruno (Frank Jackson), Ben Carter (Pokey), Ethel Clark (Mrs. Bliss), Kit Guard (gangster), Frank LaRue (Mr. Jason), Thelma Long (maid), Charles McAvoy (Dominick), Lafe McKee (Waise), Gwynne Shipman (office girl), Jack Shutta (the Turk), Al Thompson (Joey), Ernie Adams (Harry the chef), Oscar Apfel (jury foreman), Maurice Black (Miller), Al Bridge (unknown), John Dilson (S.O.S.), Matty Fain (Nick), Robert Fiske (Ralph Gilmartin), Edward Hearn (officer), Al Hill (Whitey), Lloyd Ingraham (judge), Edward Keane (District Attorney), Cornelius Keefe (Johnny Keefe), Lew Kelly (Riley), Frank Sheridan (Prison Warden), Harry Strang (gangster), Pat West (gangster).
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The state of Ohio recently passed a law permitting Casinos to be built in four Ohio cities, and the Horseshoe Casino just opened recently in nearby Cleveland, Ohio. I saw a report on television about the city leaders arguing about how to spend the new and substantial taxes that would be generated. One of the sub-plots of this movie is about legalizing gambling in order to raise taxes and put the gangsters out of business. Not much has changed in the last 80 years . . .
Senator Benson wants to pass a bill in his state to legalize gambling, and all of the gangsters are worried that they will be out of work if it passes. One of the gangsters decides to kill the senator, and also frame another gangster for the job. The senator has a daughter Dorothy that heads up a visitor help center, and she helps young ladies that run away to the big city with jobs and necessities. Ann Jason has run away from home because her father beat her needlessly . . . well, maybe 'beat' isn't the right word . . . he slapped her hard and forbid her to go to the movies with her boyfriend any more. In any case, Ann runs away to the big city, and soon is out of money, with no prospects for a job. It is 1936 and the country is still in the grips of the Great Depression, so jobs are not easy to come by for a young lady on her own. There are a lot of social comments about life in the 1930's in the first part of the movie, and depending on your political tilt you will agree or disagree with the outlook of the screenwriter.
Anyway, one day Ann goes into the help office and meets the senator's daughter Dorothy. Dorothy invites Ann to come and live with her father and her, and become the maid of the home. So far so good. We also learn that Dorothy has a boyfriend, ace reporter Jimmy Dugan, who is doing a story on the strange disappearance of thousands of girls every year. Now, if you are starting to think about the sex-slave trade that is the sensational fodder for many movies, that may have been inferred here, but nothing is mentioned about it at all, and later when the two girls are kidnapped by gangsters, they are forced to . . . clean the gangsters home and iron their clothes and cook their meals. Tough stuff, but we know that Jimmy will save them somehow from this cruel, cruel existence.
Did I mention that Jimmy was put in jail? Yup. He is writing blistering newspaper articles about these missing girls, and he refuses to divulge the names and addresses of the gangsters that are partying with these girls, so he is put in jail for contempt. While in jail he meets the gangster who is framed for the Senator's murder, and this gangster tells him where he might find the real killer, and maybe the two girls. From here on the story gets much more noir and exciting, as Jimmy poses as a hobo to infiltrate Ma Barton's farm house, where the girls are doing all of the housework. A wonderfully executed shoot out with the G-men ensues, and you will be munching your hot buttered white kernel popcorn furiously as the bullets fly and the gangsters are caught, and Jimmy and Dorothy are reunited.