After being in jail for seventeen years a crook is met by the girl he kidnapped as a baby. She now thinks he's her father. When he returns her to her real father there's a job and a reward,... See full summary »
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After being in jail for seventeen years a crook is met by the girl he kidnapped as a baby. She now thinks he's her father. When he returns her to her real father there's a job and a reward, but an old prisonmate gets in the way. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
[Sturm retells the story of the murder he committed]
...as I said, he was so big, it seems unfair I should have gotten so little money out of him.
Don't you ever get tired of talking about the guy you croaked?
Don't it ever bother you?
No. All that bothers me was a certain carelessness I had shown. I went to his funeral. It wasn't sentiment, you understand, it was curiosity. I was curious to see what they could do about that hole in his head.
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1937's "Nancy Steele is Missing!" features its title as a screaming newspaper headline, the infant daughter of munitions manufacturer Michael Steele (Walter Connolly), in the days leading up to America joining in the First World War. The kidnapper is Dannie O'Neill (Victor McLaglen), a Steele employee so dedicated to pacifism that he resorts to this drastic step just to keep his nation out of battle. Leaving the baby with friends who believe him to be away working aboard ship, O'Neill foolishly attacks two cops sent to arrest him for assault, turning a two year prison term into 20 by taking the blame for a failed jailbreak orchestrated by taunting Cockney convict Harry Wilkins (John Carradine). O'Neill has a cellmate, the bespectacled killer Professor Sturm (Peter Lorre), foolishly caught because he attended his victim's funeral, 'curious to see what they could do about that hole in his head!' Once O'Neill is released, he intends to continue his long delayed blackmail scheme, unaware of the lurking presence of the dangerous Sturm, who has also bided his time, like a cobra waiting to strike. It's an oddly sympathetic portrait of a kidnapper, not generally allowed by the Hays Code, intended for Wallace Beery (who balked at working for director Otto Preminger, replaced by George Marshall), but a much better fit for Victor McLaglen, whose pacifist never convinces, forever looking for a fight, and usually finding it. Still new to Hollywood, and just before beginning his Mr. Moto series at Fox, the quiet and amusing Peter Lorre makes off with the whole picture, his diminutive appearance belied by his overpowering stature in the prison, the other inmates keeping their distance out of respect...or fear. The clean shaven John Carradine, sporting a truly dreadful Cockney accent, only gets a couple of scenes to taunt Dannie, calling him 'a dirty spy' as he goads him into starting the jail break, in at the 18 minute mark, out at 33, still smirking at O'Neill's misfortune. Lorre and Carradine would do seven more pictures together- "Thank You, Mr. Moto," "I'll Give a Million," "Mr. Moto's Last Warning," "Around the World in Eighty Days," "The Story of Mankind," "Hell Ship Mutiny," and "The Patsy" (Lorre's last film).
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