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Dynamite (1929)

Passed | | Drama | 13 December 1929 (USA)
Wealthy Cynthia is in love with not-so-wealthy Roger, who is married to Marcia. The threesome is terribly modern about the situation, and Marcia will gladly divorce Roger if Cynthia agrees ... See full summary »



(by), (dialogue) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Roger Towne
Marcia Towne
Marco - Her Boy Friend
Muriel McCormac ...
Katie Derk
Wise Fool
William Holden ...
Wise Fool
Henry Stockbridge ...
Wise Fool
Young 'Vulture'
Barton Hepburn ...
Young 'Vulture'
Tyler Brooke ...
The Life of the Party
Robert T. Haines ...
The Judge
Douglas Scott ...
Bobby (as Douglas Frazer Scott)
Jane Keckley ...
His Mother


Wealthy Cynthia is in love with not-so-wealthy Roger, who is married to Marcia. The threesome is terribly modern about the situation, and Marcia will gladly divorce Roger if Cynthia agrees to a financial settlement. But Cynthia's wealth is in jeopardy because her trust fund will expire if she is not married by a certain date. To satisfy that condition, Cynthia arranges to marry Hagon Derk, who is condemned to die for a crime he didn't commit. She pays him so he can provide for his little sister. But at the last minute, Derk is freed when the true criminal is discovered. Expecting to be a rich widow, Cynthia finds herself married to a man she doesn't know and doesn't want to. Written by Ron Kerrigan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Denied Him Her Love, So He Took It! She Stole His Name, Tricked Him, Humbled Him and - in the end - Worshipped Him!




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 December 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dynamit  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film took place in Minneapolis Friday 15 February 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9); it apparently became a local favorite because it afterwards enjoyed several repeat performances, unusual for such a vintage film at that time; its next airings took place in Chicago Friday April 26, 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Norfolk VA Thursday 20 June 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3) and in Lubbock TX Tuesday 30 July 1957 on KCBD (Channel 11). Because of its extreme age, virtually forgotten cast members, and severely pre-code aspects of the story, sponsors elsewhere showed little interest in it, and it was only rarely taken off the shelf. In Grand Rapids it first aired 31 March 1958 on WOOD (Channel 8) and in Miami 31 May 1958 on WCKT (Channel 7); television viewers first got sight of it in Indianapolis 29 August 1958 on WLW-I (Channel 13) and in Honolulu 2 September 1958 on KHVH (Channel 13). It's now happily housed in the TCM library and enjoys an occasional outing on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies, much to the delight of the ever increasing number of vintage film enthusiasts. See more »


Hagon Derk: Ahhhh... bull!
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Crazy Credits

Film Title is shown as the word DYNAMITE written on a box of..... dynamite, after being set down by a worker. See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Fatale beauté (1994) See more »


Listen to the Mockingbird
(1855) (uncredited)
Music by Richard Milburn
Lyrics by Septimus Winner
(Published under the name Alice Hawthorne)
Sung a cappella by Tyler Brooke at the party
See more »

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User Reviews

Bickford provides the fireworks
11 April 2004 | by See all my reviews

This film has the distinction of being the great Cecil B. DeMille's first "talkie," and it's just as well since there's nothing else that particularly stands out to make it a memorable production, with the exception of the dynamic Charles Bickford. Unlike its title, this movie ended up being anything but "Dynamite" as the box office at the time, and it's not too hard to see why even decades later. DeMille seemed to have lost his touch during the sound period with this genre, for this tale of the battle-of-the-sexes/bedroom farce fused with class distinction is rather run-of-the-mill. The schoolmarmish-looking Kay Johnson is improbably cast in the role of Cynthia Crothers, an insulated, spoiled, flightly rich girl who is faced with the dilemma her late grandfather's will presents of either marrying before her fast approaching 23rd birthday, or else losing her entire inheritance and being left penniless. This is a problem since the man she's in love with, the desirable and handsome but cash-strapped Roger Towne (Conrad Nagel), is already married, and unable to become divorced "in time" due to his gold-digging, foot-dragging wife, who will only let him go if Cynthia is willing to "pay" big bucks for him. An opportunity presents itself when Cynthia gets wind of a (wrongfully) convicted murderer, Buddy Derk (Charles Bickford), willing to "sell his body" for $10,000 to go for the care of his beloved kid sister. Cynthia takes up this offer and in a desperately-driven and practical yet cold-blooded scheme, marries the soon-to-be condemned man, it seemingly being the only solution to obtain the money from her inheritance to "buy" Roger and wed him as soon as she becomes a widow, but complications ensue when Buddy is discovered to be innocent and is released.

Despite Bickford's 3rd billing, he's the real star of the show, a riveting presence that just about steals every scene he's in. He's perfectly cast both in looks and persona as the gruff, grounded and no-frills Buddy, whose rough exterior shields a teddy bear underneath. Conrad Nagel is appropriate in his part, but that's about it as he's not really given much to do here, and his role could be played by any number of other similarly suavely handsome types. As for Kay Johnson, this is the 2nd and only film I've seen her in (after "Madame Satan"), and again she leaves me wondering how she managed to get those 2 starring roles under DeMille--while a capable performer, it's not of the magnitude to counter her lack of looks and magnetism, and her patrician looks and air, while quite suited to her role in "Madame Satan," is inappropriate in the part of pampered party girl Cynthia, whereas Julia Faye as Roger's wife Marcia, displayed the sort of sexiness and spunk that would've been more apt.

To be fair, aside from Bickford, this movie is not without some saving graces. The "fish-out-of-water" scenes involving a recently released Buddy in his strange new opulent surroundings and Cynthia living in the dreary mining town, are quite amusing in their reactions to worlds which they've never been before, and frankly, have no desire to be in. Keep an eye out for a young and virtually unrecognizable Joel McCrea in a small but noticeable part as Marcia's lover Franco.

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