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Miracles for Sale (1939)

Not Rated | | Mystery | 14 August 1939 (USA)
Mike Morgan creates the illusions that magicians use in their shows. While his business is Miracles for Sale, his hobby is exposing fake spiritualists. At the club, he is invited to attend ... See full summary »

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Dave Duvallo
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La Claire
Cliff Clark ...
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Mrs. Zelma La Claire
Walter Kingsford ...
Colonel Watrous
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Dr. Sabbatt (as Frederic Worlock)
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Madame Rapport
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Harold Minjir ...
Tauro
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Storyline

Mike Morgan creates the illusions that magicians use in their shows. While his business is Miracles for Sale, his hobby is exposing fake spiritualists. At the club, he is invited to attend the calling from the other world by Sabbatt, but Judy wants Mike to help her instead. Later that night, after spoiling an attempt on the life of Judy, and meeting Madame Rapport, Mike goes to Sabbatt's hotel only to find the doors chained from the inside and a strange voice speaking. Busting in, he finds Sabbatt strangled. While there seems to be no way for anyone from this world to commit the murder, it is only the first murder. Mike must find the how and why before Judy becomes the third and final victim. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

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Genres:

Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

14 August 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cuda na sprzedaz  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a book on movie makeups, this is the first known film use of contact lenses to change the color of an actor's eyes. See more »

Goofs

One scene shows Morgan having some fun with a waiter by making sugar bowls disappear and reappear. The first time he does the trick it is cleverly executed, but the second and third time it is clearly accomplished with a camera effect instead of actual slight-of-hand. See more »

Quotes

Inspector Gavigan: [exasperated] Aw, why can't I draw a nice, clean axe-murderer up in the Bronx!
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User Reviews

 
Smoke and mirrors
9 September 2015 | by See all my reviews

The Thirties were racing towards their close, accompanied by a curious speeded-up style of film dialogue, as though the writers were being paid by the word. These flat, metallic exchanges are suitable enough for wisecracks, but they kill any sincerity in lines that are meant to carry emotional depth. So for example, the film opens on Robert Young (later to be your favourite TV doctor Marcus Welby) putting the case for exposing fake mediums in order to protect genuine seekers after psychic truth. He sounds like more like an auctioneer at a meat-market.

This was the last film to be directed by Tod Browning, who exploits his own early experience in the circus by replicating all manner of smoke-and-mirror spectaculars that can hold the attention of audiences who may have been left somewhat behind by the intricacies of the plot. But a conference of magicians is always going to make a good start to a murder story.

It was Browning who had also directed the first Dracula talkie, and he brings in touches of it here, notably in the casting of Gloria Holden, previously of Dracula's Daughter, whose disdainful manner was believed to reflect her genuine boredom at appearing in movies she felt were beneath her. But her disdain manages to suggest mystery, and we are kept wondering whether this glamorous medium will be unmasked before the end. Glamour of a more conventional kind is provided by Florence Rice as the vulnerable blonde at the mercy of sinister dark forces. They say there were also some dark forces in the studio, claiming that it was only her well-connected father who got her the roles, apparently blighting her career.

One joke that certainly wouldn't be allowed today - a haunted skull moving its jaw up and down ("Obviously a woman!"). And a good disciplined performance by a fortyish William Demarest as the regulation sceptical cop.


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