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Below the Deadline (1936)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 8 June 1936 (USA)
After a good-natured Irish cop is framed for a diamond robbery and murder and presumed dead in a train wreck, he gets plastic surgery and returns to expose the real killers.



(story and screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Flash Ackroyd (as Theodor Von Eltz)
Thomas E. Jackson ...
Pearson (as Thomas Jackson)
Diamond Dutch
Mr. Abrams
Detective Palmer
Artie Nolan
Kathryn Sheldon ...
Aunt Mary Tibbett
Police Captain Symonds
Jack Gardner ...
Henchman Spike
Al Thompson ...
Sparring Partner Al
Plastic Surgeon
Phyllis Crane ...
Miss Jennings
Charles McAvoy ...
Officer Rooney


Molly Fitzgerald, who works for Abrams and Co. Jewelers (although the company safe reads "Adams & Co. Jewelers"), is accosted on the street by a stranger who asks her for a date, but her fiancé, police officer Terry Mulvaney chases him away. Spike, the stranger, is interested in Molly other than for her pretty face; he is a member of a gang of jewel thieves who are planning to rob Abrams and want to use her to obtain information regarding the merchant's shipments of jewels. Through another ruse, gang member Flash Ackroyd gets the information and, through careful planning, frames Terry for the robbery. One of Abrams' assistants is killed and Terry is charged with robbery and murder. Terry escapes but Molly is fired as Abrams thinks she was in on the robbery. Molly gets a job in a nightclub ran by the gangsters. The train on which Terry is escaping is wrecked and he is transported to a hospital more dead than alive. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Crime | Drama | Romance






Release Date:

8 June 1936 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cecilia Parker was borrowed by Chesterfield from M-G-M, which seldom lent any of its rising stars to Poverty Row studios. See more »


Plastic Surgeon: [to Terry, who is swathed in bandages] By the way, what kind of nose did you have?
See more »

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User Reviews

Far better than I ever expected.
20 August 2016 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This crime film is from a shabby little company called Chesterfield Motion Pictures, a so-called 'Poverty Row' studio that actually just rented space at night at real studios and made super-quick and super-cheap B-movies. With a pedigree like this and mostly no-name actors, you'd assume this film would be crap. Your assumption is wrong. Instead, despite a few minor gripes, it's a dandy little crime film.

When the film begins, Molly (Cecilia Parker) and Terry (Russell Hopton) are planning on getting married. He's a cop and she works for a company that sells high-price jewels. Soon, there is a robbery of her employer and the robbers (in disguise) make it a point to point all the suspicion on Terry. He's been set-up but cannot prove he didn't do it. So, he does what most heroes do in this situation...he goes on the run to prove his innocence. An exciting (though clichéd) thing happens next--the train he's on has a wreck and when Terry awakens, he's badly injured...but has the presence of mind to plan his ID on a dead guy. The police assume the dead mangled guy was Terry and they drop the case. As for Terry, he finds himself in the hospital...and with a completely new face! Now he decides to go back and pose as Terry's brother and see if he can figure out who set him up to take the fall.

While the plot does sound very improbable, the story works well because it's well written. Also, for a cheap B, the acting ain't bad. Although Hopton was NOT a handsome guy by any standard and he looked FAR older than the character was supposed to be, he and the rest of the cast did quite well and I nearly give this film a 7. Very enjoyable despite it being totally ridiculous.

By the way, Hopton never really became a star and died of a drug overdose (ruled a suicide) in 1945. Very sad.

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