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Emergency Call (1933)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 26 May 1933 (USA)
An expose of the racketeering "accident victims" who extort millions of dollars annually from American automobile owners, insurance companies and property owners by staging fake accident ... See full summary »


Edward L. Cahn (as Edward Cahn)


Houston Branch (screen play), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (screen play) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
William Boyd ... Joe Bradley (as Bill Boyd)
Wynne Gibson ... Mabel Weenie
William Gargan ... Steve Brennan
George E. Stone ... Sammie Miller
Betty Furness ... Alice Averill
Reginald Mason ... Dr. Averill
Edwin Maxwell ... Tom Rourke
Merna Kennedy ... Day File Clerk
Oscar Apfel ... Dr. Schwarz
Ruth Fallows Ruth Fallows ... Mildred


An expose of the racketeering "accident victims" who extort millions of dollars annually from American automobile owners, insurance companies and property owners by staging fake accident with paid-witnesses standing by to serve in court trials if needed. After a few examples, this one concentrates on the 'gutter-floppers." Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Action | Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

26 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El agresor invisible See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Bible verse Mabel tries to recall at the end of the film is John 15:13. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." See more »


References Scarface (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

A Rare Film That Should Have Been Longer
4 November 2016 | by joe-pearce-1See all my reviews

This is a solid RKO B film that could have been much better if given an additional 30 minutes or so to develop its various relationships and story lines. We have here a new doctor who is also engaged to the daughter of the head of the hospital, and is suspect among some of the other doctors and workers for just that reason. However, there is one short scene between him (Bill Boyd) and her (Betty Furness), and we never see her again or even hear of her, even when Boyd has to come up against her father (who is involved with the Underworld and pretty much taking orders from a mob leader - played excellently, as always, by Edwin Maxwell). The relationship is never mentioned or given consequence again. Meanwhile, the secondary lead, played by William Gargan, is only an ambulance driver but seemingly knows everything about what's going on between the hospital and the Underworld (free access to ambulance chasers and dishonest insurance agents, purchase of condemned contraband, etc.) and he develops a real relationship with a hard-bitten nurse played by Wynne Gibson (maybe in her best-ever performance) and that relationship turns out to be the heart and soul of the film. Problem is, we bounce from scene to scene, sometimes months apart, with nothing much to connect them, as if continuity was an extraneous consideration at best. Boyd, who became an icon as Hopalong Cassidy before the decade was out, doesn't seem to have enough personality here to carry the lead (although he does get in one very good piece of rage-venting at his father-in-law to be), and the film is really Gargan's and Gibson's. The fact that Joseph Mankiewicz co-wrote the screenplay probably accounts for the surfeit of good lines ("I've never seen Rourke, but if I do, I'll be the last thing he ever sees"), but everything about the film indicates that it was something of a rush job where motivation, story line and just plain pride in one's product were concerned, and it is up to the actors (most especially Gargan, Gibson and Maxwell) to carry everything through. Gargan was always a mystery to me, in that he was a very good and natural actor who projected a maturity at this time far beyond his actual 28 years (he would have made a great member of the Irish Mafia stock company ensconced at Warner Brothers), but lacked the needed charisma to develop into a top leading man even in B films (he appeared in support in loads of terrific A films - think RAIN); here, he is a really rough jewel in a role that could almost have been written for his brother Ed, another really rough jewel who never got the girl, either. Except here, Gargan does get the girl, kinda, but Gibson's girl looks almost superannuated for the role she is playing - not to be mean about it, but it doth appear that God shorted her one neck! - (which is surely why she got to play so many molls, prostitutes and the like). But she is very affecting and, in the end, it is her film more than anyone else's, and she makes the most of it. Oh yes, there is one particularly well-filmed operating room scene of Boyd and his assistants performing an emergency operation, perhaps not visually equaled until Eddie Albert's similar turn in THE YOUNG DOCTORS almost thirty years later. God, how this film could have used another 30 minutes for character development, motivations, continuity and the like. It's almost as if RKO's slogan should have been, "Product is our most important product!" Too bad. But it's still worth a viewing for the actors (not forgetting a really vicious little turn by the usually semi-lovable and almost always affable-if-dishonest George E. Stone).

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