X Marks the Spot (November 4, 1942)
Released November 4, 1942: Eddie Delaney is a private dick who's cop father gets killed by gangsters that are hijacking rubber tires meant for the army, and it is up to Eddie to uncover the racketeers.
Directed by George Sherman
Written by Mauri Grashin, Richard Murphy, Stuart Palmer and Robert T. Shannon.
The Actors: Damian O'Flynn (Eddie Delaney), Helen Parrish (Linda Ward), Dick Purcell (Lieutenant William 'Bill' Decker), Jack La Rue (Marty Clark), Neil Hamilton (John J. Underwood), Robert Homans (Police Sergeant Timothy Delaney), Anne Jeffreys (Lulu), Dick Wessel (henchman Dizzy), Esther Muir (Bonnie Bascomb), Joe Kirk (henchman Jerry), Edna Mae (Not) Harris (Billie), Fred Kelsey (Police Officer Martin), Vince Barnett (George), Sam Bernard (taxi driver), Edmund Cobb (Police Officer Riley), Martin Faust (foreman), Jack Gardner (intern), Sam Lufkin (policeman), Charles McAvoy (Police Officer McAvoy), Frank O'Connor (policeman).
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Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle a stick of real melted butter over it, and settle in for a great murder mystery in the big city. We have a private dick, a city full of gansters looking for a new racket now that booze is legal again, and of course, the prettiest girl in the movie is the only gal that can help our private dick solve a string of murders that he is being framed for. Lots of good adventure with a lot of actors that you will recognize from other old movies.
It is 1942, and America is deeply into WWII fighting in the Pacific and in Europe. The American government is grabbing all of the material it needs for the war effort, and Americans left back at home must do without items like sugar, gasoline, and rubber tires for their cars, because the Army needs all of these things and more for their soldiers. The government has just frozen every rubber tire in the country that is sitting in warehouses waiting to be sold, and will claim them for the war effort. Jack La Rue, veteran movie bad guy, is Marty Clark, who runs a cafe / nightclub called 'The Spot', and now that booze is legal, he must find another way to make the money he is used to. He discovers that another gangster has hijacked a truck load of rubber tires intended for the army, and he hijacks the truck from the other gangster and hides them in a warehouse that he owns. Meanwhile, we meet Eddie Delaney, a private dick with an Irish father that is a seasoned policeman. Eddie is in a cafe talking to a female voice on the other end of the music machine.
Let me talk a minute about these music machines. The classic Jukebox was still a very new invention in 1942, and not widely used yet, and these boxes could play only a very limited amount of music. So in big cities like New York, there was a company that contracted with restaurants and night clubs to install a phone system from a central office to each business. At the business, the customer would put a nickel in the machine, and a girl at the central office would talk to him over the phone line, asking him what song he would like to hear. The central office had hundreds of records, and was able to play any song from the oldies to current hits, far exceeding what the machines could provide. So Eddie Delaney, our private dick has this thing for the voice of one of the girls that plays records, and they flirt a bit every time he buys a song. On this night he meets his dad the long time cop at the cafe and he tells dad that in two days he will be joining the Army to help fight the war. After they part, dad-cop is walking down a dark street and happens upon our gangster Marty Clark just as he and his henchmen are putting the stolen rubber tires into their warehouse. Dad cop is suspicious, and when he tries to look inside the warehouse, Marty shoots him dead.
Now son Eddie has two days to find dad's killer, but just when he discovers that Marty Clark is the man, Marty is killed, and Eddie seems to be the killer. Two murders later Eddie is still the prime suspect for all of the murders, and he teams up with Linda, the voice on the other end of the music machine to uncover the real killer . . . who turns out to be the last person that we might suspect.