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Truck driver Bugs Raymond organizes the trucking associations and takes protection money. Now rich, he decides to marry socialite Dorothy Stone. She rejects him for another, so he makes plans to kidnap her on her wedding day.
Bill Bailey is a Los Angeles bail bondsman who lives in a world of complete, casual corruption, where all he has to do is pick up the phone to get the charges against a client dismissed. He falls in love with slumming socialite who bluntly and startlingly declares her sexual preferences with this immortal line: "If I could find a man who would be my master and give me a good thrashing, I'd follow him around like a dog on a leash."
Entertaining and absolutely fascinating pre-code crime thriller
"Blood Money" shows just how risqué Hollywood could get before the Hayes production code was imposed. There's never any actual nudity or graphic violence shown, but there's a sleazy undercurrent running throughout the whole film that only the most oblivious wouldn't be able to pick up on. The main character is a corrupt and unlikable criminal who completely gets away free at the end, one of the female protagonists is obviously a sado-masochist who wants a man to "be my master and give me a good thrashing", and there isn't a remotely redeemable character in the whole affair. From a historical standpoint, this is one of the most fascinating pre-code dramas.
In addition to being genuinely interesting and ahead of its time, its a very entertaining film. Its quickly paced and seems to be free of much of the awkwardness associated with early sound cinema (maybe the material was just so shocking I was a bit distracted from the shortcomings). The acting is over-the-top for the most part, but never actually bad. There's a lot of exciting situations and amusingly quirky characters as well. "Blood Money" isn't exactly a masterpiece, but its certainly both interesting and entertaining. I've wanted to see it after reading about it in "Ultimate Guide For the Film Fanatic" by Danny Peary, and I'm certainly not disappointed. Its very difficult to track down, but entirely worth the search. (7/10)
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