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"Blood Money" is a fascinating precode - what else can you say about a film that has Judith Anderson in a glamor role? And an ingénue who longs for S&M to boot.
This 1933 film concerns a bail bondsman named Bill Bailey (George Bancroft) who's been helping out the mob for years. He falls for a pretty shoplifter named Elaine (Frances Dee) - she's actually slumming, as she's from a wealthy family. This leaves Bailey's girlfriend, club owner Ruby (Anderson) in the lurch. She's the woman responsible for his success, helping him out when he was thrown off of the police force. However, Elaine (who would follow any man who thrashed her around like a dog, says she) steals some bonds instead of delivering them to the appropriate place, thereby setting up Bailey as a mob target and getting his brother-in-law in deep trouble with the law. Ruby believes he's responsible for her brother's problems, and has a hit put out on him.
The acting is over the top, the dialogue is rough and filled with sexual innuendos, the atmosphere is sleazy - it's pre-code all right. I read a transcript of an interview with Joel McCrea (intended to be for a biography that wasn't written) and he kept referring to "Mother" - I finally realized that he didn't call his wife, Frances Dee, "mother" - he was referring to her that way while talking to one of his sons, who was conducting the interview. As the promiscuous, dying to be hit ingénue, she wasn't very motherly in this.
This is a no-miss if only to see Judith Anderson in a gown and jewels hanging out with mobsters and Frances Dee as something other than a pretty goody-two-shoes.
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