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Looking for Trouble (1934)

Passed | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 29 March 1934 (USA)
Joe and Casey trouble-shoot for the phone company. They try to prove that Joes's girl Ethel's boss Dan is a crook but are trapped by criminals and left in a burning building.


(as William Wellman)


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Joe Graham
Ethel Greenwood
Maizie Bryan
Pearl La Tour
Dan Sutter
James Regan
Henchman Max Stanley (as Joseph Sauers)
Police Captain Flynn
George Martin, Troubleshooter
Cabaret Manager
Switchboard Operator (as Charles Levinson)


Joe and Casey trouble-shoot for the phone company. They try to prove that Joes's girl Ethel's boss Dan is a crook but are trapped by criminals and left in a burning building.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A rollicking pair of riotous trouble-shooters---falling for dames, fighting for fun...mending wires for pay and breaking hearts for pleasure. Funniest, wise-cracking team of the century! (original print ad) See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 March 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Trouble Shooter  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The earthquake footage from this film has been used in documentaries on both earthquakes and filmmaking. See more »


At one point, a henchman tells a quibbling Pearl and Dan that they're "starting to sound more like Gracie and Allen every day." Obviously, he means Burns and Allen, but this is undoubtedly intended to be a joke. See more »

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User Reviews

Spencer Tracy as the hard guy, up in the air, 20 feet high
18 March 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tracy was always playing the hard guy in his days at Fox Films. He really didn't play normal or sympathetic figures until he moved to MGM. Here Tracy plays Joe Graham, a telephone company troubleshooter. He's offered a promotion - a job as supervisor of 14 other troubleshooters, and tells his boss he doesn't want the job. The money means nothing to him, not sitting around in an office means everything to him. He says he just wants to be happy and for now being a troubleshooter does that. He's apparently seen the world, hopping freighters for China or India, or wherever, and just picking up odd jobs until he wanted to come home.

He's dating Ethel (Constance Cummings), but their relationship is turbulent. He's jealous of everyone, and of Dan in particular. Dan's a bad guy, working both as a troubleshooter and in an illegal gambling hall. Heck, he'll do anything to pick up money if it's illegal. Joe knows this and keeps mum about it - not because he's crooked himself, he just has a philosophy of not meddling. But when something Dan has done gets blamed on Joe's new partner, Casey (Jack Oakie), Joe speaks up, gets Dan fired, and Joe punches Dan in the nose for good measure. Since Dan has been circling around Ethel, he tells Ethel a one sided story of what happened - that Joe beat him up AND got him fired just because Joe was jealous. Ethel breaks if off with Joe and is drawn even closer to Dan, with whom she sympathizes.

The point here is, both of these people are being unreasonable and not communicating. Ethel never bothers to hear Joe's side of the story. Joe goes around accusing Ethel of being untrue to him, when she has often just gone out by herself on nights when Joe was troubleshooting. In the meantime, Joe's goofy partner hits it off with Ethel's roommate, played by Arlene Judge, although the mutual attraction had me scratching my head.

So Ethel quits the phone company and starts working for Dan, who is actually running an illegal enterprise out his rented office of which Ethel is completely unaware. Now you might think, I can see where this is going. Dan is going to out himself as a bad character, Ethel will see the error of her ways, possibly in danger of bodily harm from Dan, Joe saves the day, all is well.

Actually, that's not what happens at all. The turn of events is completely unexpected and the last half of this film is particularly exciting. I'll let you watch and find out what does happen. Let me just say that even an earthquake enters in as a plot point! Great shades of "San Francisco"!

Let me just say in closing that I never thought Paramount or Fox really knew what to do with Jack Oakie. It seems like he did his best stuff at Universal - "Chance of a Lifetime", "Bowery to Broadway", and "That's The Spirit" come to mind. At any rate I'd recommend this one. It certainly does not take you where you'd expect it to take you.

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