I'll Sell My Life (September 12, 1941)
Released on September 12, 1941: A strange man and woman offer a large sum of money to Mary . . . if she agrees to be killed, and it all revolves around the Sirrocco nightclub.
Directed by Elmer Clifton
Written by Walter Ripperger, George Rosener and Elmer Clifton.
The Actors: Rose Hobart (Dale Layden, aka Mary Jones), Michael Whalen (Mordecai Breen), Stanley Fields (Bochini), Joan Woodbury (Valencia Duncan), Roscoe Ates (Happy Hogan), Richard Bond (Albert Darnell), Ben Taggart (Police Lieutenant Hammer), Robert Regent (Philip Leyden), Paul Maxey (Grady), Munro Brown (Freddie), Robert Walker (Lugger), Eduardo Durant (Eddie, orchestra leader), Frances Morris (Annie Winterbottom).
Our movie opens with two guys waiting in the parking lot of the Sirocco nightclub. They are to pick up a girl and deliver her to their boss, her boyfriend. They spot the gal, but before they can get her attention, another woman walks up to her and shoots her four times. The killer picks up a pearl bracelet that dropped to the ground and disappears into the night. Next we meet Mordacai Breen, owner of a small local newspaper, and 'good Samaritan' around town. It seems that someone has placed an ad in his small newspaper looking for people to kill. Yup, you read correctly . . . Albert Darnell is the orchestra leader at the Sirocco, and his beautiful femme fatal singer at the club. He also writes mystery novels, and this day he offers 'Mary Jones' twenty thousand dollars if she will allow him to kill her. She has a brother who is blind because of an accident that she caused. She wants the twenty thousand dollars to finance an operation to possibly return her brother's eyesight, and is willing to die for it.
As the girl is leaving her appointment with Darnell she meets Breen, the newspaper owner who is there to check out the ad. Later she goes to Breen and asks him to be the executor of her will. She gives him two sealed envelopes - one with the name and address of her brother, and the other with the story of her death. Breen promises that if she dies and some money is delivered to him, he will give the money to the person named in the envelope. And if she dies, and no one gives him any money, he is to open the other envelope, read her story, and fight for justice. Breen is not only intrigued with this proposition, but he is intrigued with Mary herself, so he agrees. He insists that she have dinner with him that evening . . . at the Sirocco club.
Now, I'm leaving out some juicy details, but here's how I've got it figured out so far: The orchestra leader's wife, part of the 'I'll buy your life' racket, killed the gal in the beginning of the movie, and our Mary is next in line to be killed. But this one has a really cool twist that tosses everything out the window. The two fellows that watched the murder in the beginning of the movie spot Mary, and guess what? Mary is the killer from the opening scene, not the shady orchestra leader's wife who will pay twenty thousand dollars for the opportunity to kill Mary. Now, what the heck is going on? Things spin wildly out of control for the next few minutes, and we're in for a rocky ride down to the end of this crime thriller, so have plenty of white kernel popcorn on hand and enjoy this excellent crime mystery thriller.