It turns out Amazon Prime Video has a trove of these treasures. They’re cheap-as-dirt crime stories that may or may not have kept people’s minds off the looming war. This is Double Cross, from 1941, out of Producers Releasing Corporation. It’s the first I’ve heard of this group, but there may be more from them in the pipeline. I’m getting details from Wikipedia.
Here is the Silver Slipper, and you can guess what kind of joint it is. You will be shocked, shocked! to learn that gambling is going on here. Pretty Ellen Bronson (Pauline Moore) works as the house photographer, walking around, looking good, and taking pictures of customers who want them. Some do, and some don’t.
Meanwhile, in the back room, Ellen’s brother Steve Bronson (Richard Beach) is schmoozing with Fay Saunders (Wynne Gibson), part owner of the establishment. This is not good. Steve is a motorcycle cop, and he shouldn’t be in such a place. That soon becomes apparent.
Police raid the joint, causing a considerable ruckus. Steve flings open the door, revealing police tussling with club co-owner Nick Taggart (John Miljan), head gangster in town, and also Fay’s main squeeze. Fay reacts appropriately, or not, by un-holstering Steve’s service revolver and letting fly, killing a cop. The cops return in kind, mortally wounding Steve. Fay lets slip it was Steve who did the shooting. Poor girl.
Steve’s best friend is Jim Murray (Kane Richmond), also a motorcycle cop, and Ellen’s main squeeze. Jim tries to pry details of the shooting out of Steve before he dies, but Steve regrets there is not enough time left to tell the story. Jim comforts Ellen, who must now find a new job, since the Silver Slipper is being shuttered by the authorities (gambling).
Ha! We should have guessed. The mayor (William Halligan) is in Taggart’s pocket. Here the mayor is telling Taggart to never come to the office again, but to wait for a signal so they can meet. High class.
Jim’s father is Police Captain Murray (Robert Homans). The captain gets tough, some would even say physical, with Taggart, threating to run him out of town. Taggart responds by putting out a hit on the captain. Bullets fly, coming through the window behind Captain Murray’s window, killing another cop, in the office to drop off some papers.
Jim pretends to go rogue to get in with Taggart. Ellen resumes her job when the Silver Slipper reopens. Ellen hears voices inside Taggart’s office and determines the mayor has come in the back way and is picking up a payoff from Taggart. Jim gives Ellen a boost up, and she captures the scene with her trusty flash camera.
Ellen is found out. The crooks want the photo. Jim spirits the film out and to a shop to be printed. This was before Canon 5D digital SLR cameras. Fay becomes distraught that things are falling apart. There is name calling. Fay harangues Taggart viciously. Not the person you want to harangue viciously, he has a knife. That’s the end of Fay.
Taggart has Ellen and Jim as prisoners. He devises a scheme to ambush Captain Murray, using Jim as bait. In the back of the Dollar Moving and Storage van Taggart and two gunnies proceed to the place they expect Captain Murray to be waiting. But Jim has pulled a fast one. He has pulled the police radio from his motorcycle and installed it in the truck. He is driving, and he cold-cocks the henchman guarding him. He radios the cops, and they ride up en masse. The gunfight is not even close. The police ventilate the back of the van and waste the mug who had been guarding Jim. The remaining thug, Miggs (Heinie Conklin), goes soft and releases Ellen without harm.
And that’s the end of the movie.
The plot is lame, without much appeal to plausibility. Performances by the players would plank over somebody’s footbridge, they are that stiff. This print is poor quality, but it likely sparkled when first minted. A lot of cinematic history has been lost due to indifferent storage. Computer digitization is currently archiving what remains, but had it been available 70 years ago, this would have been among the last in the queue to be scanned.