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Muss 'em Up (1936)

Approved | | Mystery | 14 February 1936 (USA)
A private detective is enlisted to find out who shot a dog and threatened its owner, but before long he's also involved in a kidnapping and murder plot.



(screenplay) (as Erwin Gelsey), (novel)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Callahan ...
Amy Hutchins
Paul Harding
Jim Glenray, Paul's Brother in Law
'Red' Cable (as Big Boy Williams)
Nancy Harding
Gene Leland
Robert Middlemass ...
Inspector Brock
Tony Spivali, Gambler
Maxine Jennings ...
Luigi Turseniani, Head of the Mob


Famous private detective Tip O'Neil is summoned by telegram to the estate of old friend Paul Harding, but finds the telegram was sent by Paul's attractive secretary, Amy Hutchins. Paul admits his dog was shot by extortionists to show they mean business, and shows Tip some threatening notes they sent. That night, Paul's ward, Corinne, is kidnapped by two gangsters and her driver is found dead the next morning. The kidnappers contact Tip demanding $200,000, which is delivered according to instructions. Awaiting the return of Corrine, Tip learns her fiancé, Gene Leland, is an ex-convict, and he also investigates why a thug, Maratti, was found prowling around the grounds, and why Paul's brother-in-law, Jim Glenray, was seen leaving the estate late the night before. And when the chauffeur is murdered with Amy's gun as he was about to confess some complicity, Tip has to piece together various clues to pinpoint the culprits. Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

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Release Date:

14 February 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La villa del mistero  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Good cast picks up a paycheck in cloudy mystery
20 August 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The cast of "Muss 'em Up" (1936) is what makes this mystery spiced with comedy mainly worthwhile. Preston Foster and Alan Mowbray are strong actors backed up by a bunch of others also in good form: Margaret Callahan, Molly Lamont, Florine McKinney, Ward Bond, Harold Huber, Clarence Muse, Guinn Williams, Maxie Rosenbloom, John Carroll, and Ralph Morgan. Putting in a brief appearance is Willie Best. Lucille Ball has an uncredited very brief showing getting on a train.

The mystery is for real and its solution kept well-hidden until the end. Initially, it's the shooting of a dog and an extortion demand. Then it becomes kidnapping and a murder of a chauffeur. Foster is a private detective who plays a good cop-bad cop routine with "Big Boy" Williams. Mowbray owns the high-class house in which many of the principals reside.

Foster doesn't follow any obvious line of investigation and the story comes across as rather jumbled and non-linear. There is plenty of extraneous information that obscures the mystery. Clues are few and far between. You may well be left scratching your head when it's over, wondering about some of the events and how they connect. The final explanations are rapid fire.

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