Creaky but fun crime movie with Edward G.Robinson as the head of a phony spiritualism racket and Claudette Colbert as a phony medium. Robinson is trying out the chops that would lead to 1933’s classic “Little Caesar.”
The movie is also a piece of history as it marks the sound debut of Robinson and Colbert.
The Fox (Edward G.Robinson) heads a racket that combines a medium, wealthy clients and jewel robbery. The medium is Madam Mystera. The rest of the gang is Jim, Goofy and a carnival geek named Dogboy.
Things are going well until an El crash kills Madam Mystera. Since her face was always veiled Fox orders Goofy to put on the veil and masquerade as Mystera. Fox identified her body in the morgue. Instead of the large drawers seen in most movies and TV shows this morgue stores bodies in what look like Murphy beds that pull out of the wall.
Into their headquarters walks Jean Oliver (Claudette Colbert). She wants a job. She was the companion to an elderly woman named Ramsey. Ramsey’s son fell for her so Mom planted some jewels in Jean’s luggage and reported them stolen. Jean got sent up for four years.
Fox shows her the racket as he decides to hire Jean as the new Madam Mystera. Jean says her ambition is to kidnap the young granddaughter of Mrs.Ramsey. She doesn’t want any ransom she just wants to raise her to become a liar and a thief and then throw it in Ramsey’s face when the girl gets caught.
At police headquarters, reporter Gordon Grant tells the chief he’s going to visit Madam Mystera’s place. He wants to expose the racket. He knew Jean since they were kids but doesn’t see through her veil. Jean’s plan succeeds as they kidnap little Marcia from, Central Park.
Mrs. Ramsey goes to the police station and a reluctant chief talks to her. Gordon is there too and sites an article that says Jean Oliver has been confirmed dead in the El accident. Fox succeeded to switching identities with Madam Mystera…until now. Ramsey has a letter from the kidnapper. Gordon recognizes Jean’s handwriting. Mrs. Ramsey says they should pay a visit to Madam Mystera where she’ll pose as a client.
Meanwhile, Fox and Jean are at a nightclub. Fox proposes to her but she drops it on him that she doesn’t feel the same towards him.
There’s some strange stuff to come before the wrap up. If the movie didn’t have the early Robinson and Colbert it wouldn’t have been worth it but that duo makes it early Hollywood history that film buffs should see.