Second entry in the Mike Shayne series. It’s not based on any of the Brett Halliday novels but instead is from the 1933 book “Sleepers East” by Frederick Nebel. This is a big improvement over the first one. There’s still some lame comedy but it gets toned down as the movie progresses.
Mike (Lloyd Nolan) runs into his former fiancee Kay Bentley (Lynn Bari) at the Denver train station. He’s secretly taking a surprise witness to a murder trial. She can clear the defendant. Kay is a newspaper reporter so Mike has to keep her from finding out. Mike arranged to have Helen Carlson (Mary Beth Hughes) put on the train via stretcher and disguised.
On the train he warns Helen to stay in her compartment. She wants a drink. Mike meets Kay’s fiancee Tom Linscott. He’s a lawyer for political boss,Caleb Wentworth, who is running for governor. Also on the train is P.I.Carl Izzard who tells Tom he better find Helen or a lot of careers, including Tom’s will go down the tubes.
While all this is going on the engineer is determined to push the train to arrive on time no matter what. He had to wait for railroad detective George Trautwein (Eugene Brophey) to get on board. Also rushing to get on the train is Everett Jason (Louis Jean Hydt). He’s carrying ten grand in his suitcase.
Porter Leander Jones (Ben Carter) accidentally knocks the suitcase over while making up the berth. He tells the other porters including Mantan Moreland about all that money.
By accident Everett falls through the door to Helen’s compartment. She sends him for a drink. When he returns she tells him her story and all about the trial. He tells her he’s leaving his wife and going to South America. He says the money he has with him are his savings. He eventually asks her to come with him and she agrees. Trautman is convinced an embezzler is on the train. He makes a search.
Mike sees a note on the floor of his compartment. It’s from Helen asking to see him right away. He recognizes Kay’s handwriting and has some fun with her. He goes back to his compartment and Carl comes in. He tries to bribe Mike into giving up Helen. Mike refuses. Carl pulls a gun.
Now an incident occurs that changes everything. At this point the comedy is abandoned and the movie redeems itself.
Mantan Moreland and Ben Carter were one of the best comedy teams of the era.