The Law of Contact

Lady Luck (September 14, 1936)

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The Big Bluff

Released September 14, 1936: Beautiful Young Mamie Murphy thinks that she has won a large sweepteaks until an old wash woman appears with the same name, and the winning ticket. The two women team up so that each can get what she really wants.

Directed by Charles Lamont

The Actors: Patricia Farr (Mamie Murphy), William Bakewell (Dave Haines), Lulu McConnell (Aunt Mamie Murphy), Duncan Renaldo (Tony Morelli), Iris Adrian (Rita), Jameson Thomas (Jack Conroy, and the voice of the race announcer), Lew Kelly (Detective James Riley), Vivien Oakland (Mrs. Cora Hemingway), Claud Allister (Briggs), Arthur Hoyt (J. Baldwin Hemingway), John Kelly (Joe, first hood), Charles Lane (Feinberg), Lupee Lupien (French maid), Lionel Backus (chauffeur), Joe Barton (Sam Goldberg), Ed Cassidy (William Feldman), Robert Cory (butler), Edward Hearn (Bill, cop), Rodney Hildebrand (Maddock, cop), Lee Prather (banker Cummings), Pedro Regas (head barber), Francis Sayles (city editor), Jack Shutta (Red), Edward Thomas (waiter), Ray Turner (elevator operator), Robert Winkler (unknown).


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Before Duncan Renaldo was a cowboy hero in The Cisco Kid on television with a thick Spanish accent, he was Tony Morelli, a nightclub owner in New York City, and this movie shows an entirely different acting style for the veteran actor. In a lot of movies from the Great Depression era beautiful young ladies chase wealthy men in a search of a better life, but in this light romantic comedy murder adventure it is a beautiful young lady that is chased by all of the men. Of course, to round out this romantic comedy, we only need a good murder and frame-up. All together, a delightful way to spend an hour of your time while you munch on a big bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn.

Our movie opens in a large New York City barber shop. Young Mamie Murphy is a manicurist that all of the fellows are after. The three that interest us the most are Tony Morelli, owner of the Blue Moon nightclub, and Dave Haines, a reporter from a local newspaper, and Jack Conroy, a man who appears to be wealthy, but is actually a penniless gigolo. One day in the shop Mamie learns that she has a possible winning ticket in a big Irish horserace if the horse named 'Lady Luck' wins. Now all the men are after Mamie, but she wants more wealth than Dave the newspaper reporter can give her, and she doesn't go for Tony the slick nightclub owner. Instead she decides to tie her wagon to the apparently wealthy Jack Conroy . . . except that Jack is really a poor man masquerading as a wealthy gentleman. But if Mamie is soon to be wealthy on her own if she wins the sweepstakes, why does she chase the apparently wealthy man instead of the newspaper man that she really likes? Because there is another Mamie Murphy, and the other woman is the real winner of the sweepstakes.

One day when young Mamie answers her door, an old wash woman introduces herself as Mamie Murphy, the woman that really holds the winning ticket. Young Mamie is crestfallen as she realizes that she is not the potential winner of a fortune. Young Mamie explains that because of the publicity for the winning ticket she has been offered a contract on Broadway, and other lucrative endorsements if her horse wins the big race. The old wash woman with the real winning ticket is a no nonsense broad with a good heart, and she decides that they should team up. The older wash woman, 'Auntie Mame' will really claim the money, but she will keep it a secret and allow the world to think that the young and beautiful Mamie won the fortune, and the young Mamie can get the endorsements and publicity, and marry the wealthy Jack Conroy. Except that Jack Conroy is a ladies-man swindler without any money, remember? And then when someone kills Conroy, and young Mamie wakes up with the murder gun in her hand, and a dead Conroy at her feet, things get really complicated.

As a fan of old movies, I recognize the standard way that the plots usually develop, and I took the on screen cues to guess who the murderer really was . . . but they got me! They threw in a red herring that I took hook, line and sinker, and I was totally surprised by the revelation of the real killer. Another thing that surprised me and kept me smiling through this adventure was the continuous series of comic one-liners that the authors wrote into the script. There are more funny one-liners in this movie than a full Bob Hope routine, and they are timeless - just as apt and funny today as they probably were in 1936. All in all, an exceptionally fine way to invest the next hour of your time.