Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Parole Fixer (1940)

PAROLE FIXER (1940), a Paramount crime film, is enjoyably diverting entertainment. This "B" movie provided early roles for a number of actors in a briskly told tale.

PAROLE FIXER was one of a few movies inspired by J. Edgar Hoover's book PERSONS IN HIDING (1939), which was also the name of the first movie in the series. Like PERSONS IN HIDING, PAROLE FIXER was written by William Lipman and Horace McCoy.

William Henry, Lyle Talbot, and Jack Carson play "G" men; when one of the men is gunned down by paroled ex-con Big Boy Bradmore (a scary Anthony Quinn), the other two work to bring Big Boy in.

Bradmore and another ex-con, Steven Eddson (Robert Paige, CAN'T HELP SINGING), need money and arrange the kidnapping for ransom of wealthy Enid (Virginia Dale, HOLIDAY INN) and her fiance Bruce (a young Richard Denning, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON). Enid's well-meaning but flighty socialite mother (Marjorie Gateson) has been an innocent part of a plot to parole men from prison who have no intention of changing their ways.

Solving the kidnapping will also lead the FBI men to the killer, and the race is on!

I really enjoyed this quick-moving film. (IMDb lists the running time as 68 minutes; the version I saw was slightly shorter.) A lot of the fun is in picking out faces in the cast; for instance, in a single scene at a florist's stand you've got great character actors such as Byron Foulger, Charles Lane, and Doodles Weaver.

The young switchboard operator is Janet Waldo -- the voice of Judy Jetson of THE JETSONS, who is still with us today; she turns 91 in a couple of weeks.

Jack Carson and Fay Helm's cook, Aunt Lindy, is played by Louise Beavers of HOLIDAY INN -- which also provided a starring role for Virginia Dale, the ingenue in this film.

PAROLE FIXER was directed by Robert Florey and filmed by Harry Fischbeck. There is one notably shocking scene for a "B" film in which the evil Quinn has a run-in with a pot of hot coffee, thanks to brave Virginia Dale -- many years before a similar moment in THE BIG HEAT (1953)! That and the overall violent tone might explain why at least one lobby card says "Not Suitable for General Exhibition."

Having enjoyed PAROLE FIXER and PERSONS IN HIDING so much, I'd love to see the other two films in the series, UNDERCOVER DOCTOR (1939), starring Lloyd Nolan, and QUEEN OF THE MOB (1940) starring Ralph Bellamy. Fun stuff.


Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura,

The more I see of these wonderful Paramount B crime films the more impressed that I am.
Like you say they are very briskly paced and have great casts.
It's also great seeing future stars early in their careers.
I loved the character "Aunt Lindy" played by Louise Beavers.
When the G.Men are not chasing gangsters they are gorging themselves
at "Aunt Lindy's Chicken Parlor"
Having demolished a huge silver platter of fried chicken Aunt Lindy
appears with another one leaving the boys to say they couldn't eat another thing. "What's the matter with you boys...y'all on diets" it's that
kinda movie.
I also love the way Aunt Lindy helps the boys crack the case and earns a "special agent" nomination.
This good natured fun is balanced with more chilling moments like the
coffee in the face moment that Laura mentions in her very fine review.
Now all we need is for Universal Vault to re-issue some of these
wonderful Paramount B Films on DVD

Kind regards,


4:40 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Sounds like something I'll really enjoy. Nobody could be as menacing as Anthony Quinn when he turned on the mean.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


Cliff of the blog Immortal Ephemera just saw PERSONS IN HIDING, as he was researching Helen Twelvetrees, and he told me on Twitter he was also pleasantly surprised by that film. They really do need to be more widely available.

Louise Beavers was just wonderful in this -- but then I always enjoy her.

Caftan Woman, I'm sure you would enjoy this one! :)

Best wishes,

6:50 PM  
Blogger Kristina Dijan said...

This looks great; love that it has so many familiar faces and always love a good B discovery.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Kristina, I'm pretty sure you'd like this one! :)

Best wishes,

2:09 PM  

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