Today’s movie is Blood Money (1933). This is my first go at an honest to goodness pre-code movie. I was telling one of my co-workers about this film and after a bit, she said when do the rabbits come in? I was pretty confused until she told me she thought the title was Blood Bunny.
I am pretty excited to record this podcast for two reasons: 1) We all survived Hurricane Irma, and 2) I have wanted to do it ever since I was researching Episode 42 – I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and I heard Frances Dee’s quote about a friend admonished her for playing a prostitute in Blood Money (1933), and she replied, ‘I played a masochistic nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac, not a prostitute.”
I think PreCode.com summed this movie up pretty well saying:
Proof That It’s Pre-Code
Women slapped and punched in the face.
Sixteen year old comes in charged with criminal assault of an older woman, our main character thinks it’s pretty funny.
Woman dressed like a dude.
One of the main characters has a severe case of kleptomania and thrill stealing, as well as sexually getting off to criminals.
Intimidation and bribery galore.
Hemorrhoids pillow used as a punchline.
Girl gets extremely excited by luau dancing: “Pagan! Almost savage, isn’t it?!”
“I want a man who’s my master! Who would shoot the first man who looks at me!” “You need a good spanking.” “What I want is a good thrashing!”
The ending’s a little… huh.
I was a little impressed with how far out these films really were. In some ways, were not caught up to the place they were. The mania of the Elaine character is still shocking.
There are only a couple of returning actors because this movie is a little early for me. Let’s jump right in.
Frances Dee was cast as Elaine Talbart, girlfriend of Baily and some others. Dee was covered in Episode 42 – I Walked With a Zombie (1943).
Judith Anderson played the role of Ruby Darling, bar owner and girlfriend of Baily. Ruby is quite a departure compared to everything else I’ve seen Anderson in. Anderson was covered in Episode 91 – Laura (1944).
George Bancroft played bail bonds man Bill Bailey. Bancroft was born in 1882 in Philadelphia. After high school, he attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and became a naval officer. Following his time in the Navy, he worked as a theater manager and in minstrel shows. He turned to acting where he performed in silent films and made his debut on Broadway in 1923.
Bancroft was a big man and he was good at playing bad guys. He did well in late 1920s with films like The Pony Express (1925), Underworld (1927), and Thunderbolt (1929). However, he began to grow larger and become harder to work with. He had some good character roles playing a newspaper editor in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and Marshal Curly Wilcox in Stagecoach (1939). He mixed it in up with Cecil B. DeMille during the filming of North West Mounted Police (1940) and by 1942 he decided to retire. He lived 14 more years dying at the age of 74 in 1956.
Chick Chandler played bank robber Drury Darling. Chick was born in Kingston, New York in 1905. With almost 200 movie and television credits just a few of the movies chick was in include Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), Hollywood Cavalcade (1939), Swanee River (1939), The Magnificent Dope (1942), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944), Seven Doors to Death (1944), Lost Continent (1951), Battle Cry (1956), It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), and The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1969).
His television credits include “Soldiers of Fortune” 1955-1956. He had been retired for more than 20 years when he died in 1988.
Etienne Girardot played the Bail Bond Clerk, a devoted employee of Bailey. Girardot was born in London in 1856. He is known for Twentieth Century (1934), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). He died in 1939 at the age of 83.
George Regas was cast as Charley. Regas was a Greek stage actor that came to the US to work character parts of different ethnicities.
A man is packing to leave town. His girlfriend is giving him a hard time. Two policemen come in with a key. They pull the jewels out of the light globe. When he realizes he has been setup he punches the woman in the face with no concern for the two detectives. He tells her to call Bill Bailey. Next a man wakes a judge in the middle of the night and tells him Bill Bailey wants him sign a blanket bond. Next a butcher receives an order for 150 turkeys for Thanksgiving to be distributed to the judges, lawyers, and police. Finally, at the fights, Bill Bailey (George Bancroft) is losing every bet he makes and it is clear he is a bail bondsman.
A woman comes in with her son to the bail bond shop. Bailey is in the pool hall but comes back to his office. Bailey finds out the boy is 16 and charged with criminal assault on a 38-year-old woman. When reviewing on the interweb for this movie I noticed a lot of people were critical of the Bailey character for laughing at the charges. Having worked as a bail bonds man in an earlier incarnation I know he was smiling because the 16 year is going to keep getting into trouble until Bailey gets the old woman’s house.
Later Bailey goes to a speak easy/brothel that is run by his girlfriend Ruby Darling (Judith Anderson). A singer (Blossom Seeley) is belting it out. Bailey goes to the bar and there is a woman there wearing a tuxedo, a monocle, and a hat. When Baily offers her a cigar, she smells it and calls him a big sissy.
Bailey goes upstairs and talks with a maid Jessica (Theresa Harris). When Bailey goes into Ruby’s room, her brother, Drury Darling (Chick Chandler) is there having just been released from prison on a bank robbery charge. Drury leaves for his date with monocle woman.
Ruby talks about how she has taken care of Bailey even though he has strayed a bit. Ruby worries about her brother.
Back at the bail bond office, the clerk (Etienne Girardot) brings a ring in that a woman wants to use as bond for a grand theft wrap. Bailey can tell that the ring is worth more than the bond so he goes out to talk to the woman. The lovely young woman introduces herself as Jane Smith (Frances Dee AKA Elaine Talbart). Bailey listens in her call and finds that she is from a well to do family that is in the Pineapple business. Bailey offers “Ms. Smith” a ride home and she accepts after she finds out it is a convertible. When Bailey turns his back, she steals a fancy lighter off his desk.
In the car, “Ms. Smith” asked to be taken to a drive-in restaurant. While there she uses Bailey’s lighter, engraved as being from boxer Jack Dempsey. She says “So what?” and smiles. Later Bailey goes by the store to get the charges dropped. The store manager is a very young Edward Van Sloan. I almost didn’t recognize him without his large Dracula glasses. Bailey has the charges dropped by the insurance company by simply making a call. When the manager stands, there is a hemorrhoid pillow on the chair and Bailey laughs in his face.
Mr. Talbart is throwing a Hawaiian luau. Bailey attends with Elaine and she gets sexually excited watching the female dancers saying “Pagan! Almost savage, isn’t it?” She goes on to say she needs a master to give her a good thrashing and she would follow him around like a dog on a leash. Kinky!
Elaine introduces Bailey to her father who is a staunch Republican while Bailey supports the Democrat. Elaine goes to dance as the men talk more politics and Bailey ends the conversation with “The only difference between a liberal and a conservative man is, that a liberal recognizes the existence of vice and controls it, while a conservative just turns his back and pretends it doesn’t exist.” Elaine’s father is shocked when he finds Bailey is a bail bonds man. The father tells Bailey that Elaine has an underworld mania. Bailey gives her father a plan to open a charge accounts at all the stores where Elaine steals. This puts Bailey in good with the dad.
Bailey comes to see Ruby and she knows that he has been running around with Elaine. Ruby warns him off but Bailey decides to go with Elaine. Ruby is not happy but she accepts. He asks her to be friends. Ahhh, the kiss of death. When Bailey leaves, Ruby sadly asks the maid to have her room filled with flowers.
Sometime later, a headline reads that a bank has been robbed by a lone gunman. Bailey shows back up a Ruby’s place and asks about Drury. Drury has been twice convicted and Bailey suggest that Drury surrender and then go out on bail. If it looks like he is going to be convicted, Bailey with let him skip. As long as he is paid. Bailey and Ruby go to see Drury. There are two cops following him. They play drunk but Bailey sees through it.
At Drury’s place, Bailey bribes and threatens the taxi drive to not say where they were dropped. In a very nice, trick Drury gives them the number of the apartment across the hall. Bailey gets the bail set at $50,000 for a half million-dollar robbery. Drury says most of the loot is registered bonds and can’t be sold.
Bailey and Elaine go to the dog races. She says she likes to be around Bailey because he introduces her to another world. Bailey has bought Elaine a Greyhound but it comes in way behind the pack.
Drury is there with a couple of women. One of the woman is Lucille Ball. Elaine is doing the elevator eyes on Drury and when she finds out he is a bank robber, she can’t contain herself. She is wide eyed and crazy looking when she talks about bank robbery. Elaine invites Drury to get interested in her. At the golf course Bailey and Drury are called Elaine from adjacent phone booths. Elaine agrees to break her date with Bailey and go out with Drury.
Bailey meets the DA on the course and he says with the new evidence he has, he is planning on doubling the bail. Bailey goes to see Drury and he almost catches Drury and Elaine coming in from a date. On Bailey’s advice, Drury decides to skip out on his bail. Drury says he will send $50,000 in gold bonds over to cover the debt. Bailey tells him to head for Dallas.
In the morning, Drury and Elaine are getting ready to escape on two separate routes. He gives her the $50,000 in gold bonds for Bailey and tells her to destroy the $300,000 worth of register bonds. She drops a package at Bailey’s office and the clerk takes it. Bailey thinks he has been double crossed by Drury because Elaine has intentionally given him the wrong bonds.
Bailey is getting ready to turn Drury in and Ruby keeps saying he’s a square guy. To hurt Bailey, Ruby tells him that Drury and Elaine are a couple. Ruby threatens to break him and calls him a cooper. She calls him a blood sucker and he throws her out.
Drury gets arrested in Dallas and Ruby calls in all the other gangsters in the town. She says Baily did it for a woman and that he wouldn’t take her money. Charley (George Regas) asks if he should have Bailey killed. Ruby has a better plan. She wants to break him. The gangsters get all of the criminals that are bonded out by Bailey to skip town. This means Bailey will have to pay the full bond amount, not just the 10% a bonds man gets.
Charley has some men blow Bailey’s safe. When the police get there, they find the $300,000 in registered bonds. The DA knows it was a setup but indicts Bailey to make the case stronger against Drury. Bailey goes to see a newspaper editor. All of the people Bailey has helped have turned their back on him until he joins the police and starts to go against the gangsters. This is costing all of the gangsters’ money. Ruby wants to call the whole thing off but Charley says it has gone too far. Ruby backs out of the plot. A gunman that failed to get a shoot at Bailey comes in and they wait for Ruby to leave. One of Charley’s men comes up with the idea of an exploding eight ball. They make the first one and throw it out the window. It works.
Elaine goes to jail to visit Drury and proclaims her love. She says she has a gun in her pocket and she tells him that she gave Bailey the wrong bonds. Drury stands up and slaps her across the divider wall. He starts raving that he has to talk to his sister but the cops drag him to solitary confinement.
Bailey under police escort goes to the pool hall. Back at the cell, Drury uses matches to smoke the back of a plate and sends a message out to Ruby.
Ruby gets the message as Bailey plays pool with some cops. She gets a message to Charley, but he says it is too late. After a bit Charley’s men switch the 8-ball for the exploding one. Most of the men in the pool hall clear out.
Ruby races across town paying her driver to break the law. As the pool balls are sunk in order, the cab races across town. The 8-ball is up next when Ruby’s cab crashed right in front of the pool hall. Bailey goes to her and takes her inside. She tells him about the exploding pool ball. He throws it out the window and it blows. What kind of town is this?
Elaine shows up in time to see Bailey and Ruby kissing. About this time a crying woman comes out of another building. Elaine asks what happened and the woman says she went upstairs for a modelling job and the man attacked and tried to rape her. He also bruised and punched her before she escaped. Elaine is wide eyed with excitement. She gets the name and address from the woman and heads up to be abused.
Bailey and Ruby reconcile and she says she will keep bailing him out. He tells her to remember that behind each Barnham there is a Bailey.
The movie fades to black.
World-Famous Short Summary – You got to dance with them that brung ya.
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Beware the moors