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Miracle Money (1938)

 |  Crime, Short  |  26 March 1938 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 43 users  
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A quack doctor convinces people that this "Volta Ray" cures cancer.

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Cast

Cast overview:
John Miljan ...
Dr. Jones
Boyd Crawford ...
Dr. Bates / William Wilson
Robert Middlemass ...
Hartney Drew
E. Alyn Warren ...
Dr. Turner (as Fred Warren)
Claire Du Brey ...
Hazel, Dr. Jones' Nurse
Frederick Vogeding ...
Dr. Jones' Viennese Associate
Victor Kilian ...
...
Miss Grant / Mrs. Wilson
Ruth Robinson ...
Mrs. Sanders
Clem Bevans ...
Mr. Greene
Eleanor Wesselhoeft ...
Mrs. Greene
Wally Maher ...
The Druggist
Edit

Storyline

A quack doctor convinces people that this "Volta Ray" cures cancer.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Short

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 March 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Crime Does Not Pay Subject: Miracle Money  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
If it ducks like a quack...
24 June 2003 | by (Memphis, TN) – See all my reviews

"Miracle Money" is one of the many popular "Crime Does Not Pay" docu-drama shorts that appeared in the late 1930's and early 1940's. ("Once again, this is your MGM crime reporter!") Although the actual storyline is a bit overripe (medical investigators playing cops and robbers), the subject matter was very timely, and remains so today.

The "Miracle Money" refers to cash swindled from frightened and easily duped victims of quack medical practitioners. In this episode, the villainous doctor diagnoses cancer in his victims (whether they have it or not), and promises a reliable and painless cure via his "Volta Ray" machine in exchange for thousands of dollars. Those who are aren't really ill are cheated out of their life savings; the ones who actually *have* serious problems are generally doomed because they wait too long to seek rational treatment.

The fictional "Dr. Jones" of MM was a thinly-veiled reference to Albert Abrams, who first began his career as a quack gadget charlatan in 1915 and managed to dodge the law for years thereafter. There is also a strong inference to Harry Hoxsey and his cancer clinic scams, which began in 1936.

Apparently the message of "Miracle Money" wasn't sufficiently spread -- Ruth Drown resurrected the cancer charlatan device during the 1940's (ironically, her offices were located in Hollywood). Even in the 21st Century, the spiritual descendants of Abrams and Drown are still advertising such "cures," using advertising that is remarkably similar to that used by Dr. Jones in "Miracle Money" some 65 years ago...and the Hoxsey clinics, although finally driven out of the United States, are still operating in Mexico.

This short film appears occasionally on TCM. If you happen to stumble across it, watch. It's fun and melodramatic in its own right, as most of the Crime Does Not Pay subjects are, but it also has an eerie timelessness.


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