Crime Inc. (April 15, 1945)
Released on April 15, 1945: A newspaper crime reporter and a local gangster try to discover who the top man is in a new crime syndicate that is controlling crime in the city.
Produced by Leon Fromkess
Directed by Lew Landers
Written by Martin Mooney and Raymond L. Schrock
The Actors: Leo Carrillo (Tony Marlow, nightclub owner), Tom Neal (Big Jim Riley, newspaper crime reporter), Martha Tilton (Betty Van Cleve, nightclub singer), Lionel Atwill (Pat Coyle, criminal lawyer), Grant Mitchell (Wayne Clark), Sheldon Leonard (Police Captain Ferrone), Harry Shannon (Police Commissioner Collins), Danny Morton (Mike Eagan, aka Bugs Kelley, gangster), Virginia Vale (Trixie Waters), Don Beddoe (District Attorney Dixon), George Meeker (Barry North), Rod Rogers (henchman Val Lucas), Ed Cronley (Police Sergeant Hayes), Jack Gordon (Jud Stecker), Monk Friedman (convict), Frank Marlowe (cab driver), George Chandler (cab driver), Wade Crosby (mobster), Crahan Denton (Vannie Denton), Sam Flint (Judge Poole), Ben Frommer (nightclub patron), Herman Hack (carnival worker), Sam Harris (grand juror), Harry Harvey (newspaper city editor), Earle Hodgins (carnival barker), Stuart Holmes (board member), I. Stanford Jolley (mobster), Eddie Kane (nightclub head waiter), Mike Lally (detective), Nolan Leary (board member), Carl M. Leviness (grand juror), Wilbur Mack (nightclub patron), Michael Mark (café waiter Lutz), Thomas Martin (waiter), Philo McCullough (grand juror), Howard M. Mitchell (Police Sergeant), Forbes Murray (grand juror), Stanley Price (Eddie Garr), Jack Rockwell (prison guard), Gene Roth (Big Ed Johnson), Larry Steers (board member), Robert Strange (grand juror), Emmett Vogan (District Attorney Conroy)
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The Crime Reporter and the Sweetheart of Swing
Most big cities have always had their share of gangsters working their corner of the city. Bugs Kelley is a local racketeer who is being squeezed out of business, and he doesn’t like it at all. A big, secret syndicate has hit town with an unknown leader and Bugs must give his operation to the syndicate or be rubbed out.
Cool gangster story ahead, but I’d like to introduce you to the girl who plays Bugs Kelly’s kid sister Betty. We first meet Betty when Bugs takes a newspaper crime reporter with him on a trip to Atlantic City where his little sister is singing in a nightclub.
Martha Ellen Tilton was 27 years old and was a gorgeous blonde torch singer with small dance bands around Los Angeles, and when the biggest dance band in the land came to Hollywood to take part in a movie, she saw her chance to hit the big time.
Benny Goodman and his orchestra were part of a new movie being filmed in 1937 and while he was in town he set up auditions, and Martha got her chance to sing for the most popular band in the country. He was having trouble keeping his lady singers because during the height of his popularity Benny Goodman would go on tour year round, with no time off.
Martha started singing her first song of two while Benny Goodman sat in the audience watching and listening. She finished her first song and began her second song . . . . . . A few words into her second song Benny Goodman stood up and left the room.
A devastated Martha Tilton stopped singing and rushed out of the room crying. She went home and cried herself to sleep that night, wondering why Benny Goodman had walked out on her in the middle of a song. The next morning, she got a phone call telling her that Benny Goodman left the room because he had heard enough, he wanted to talk to her and hire her!
Martha Tilton sang for the Benny Goodman Orchestra for several years, including the famous two night 1938 concert in Carnegie Hall that changed the face of Jazz and Swing music forever. If you would like to hear more of the Sweetheart of Swing, the Liltin’ Miss Tilton, visit her music page at Jimbo Shares the Music of Martha Tilton. By the way, the first song she sings on that page is, in my humble opinion, the sexiest love song ever recorded . . . . Betcha can’t guess what it is . . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Lionel Atwill and George Meeker
Martha Tilton and Tom Neal
Martha Tilton and Tom Neal