Easy Money (1936)


Easy Money Storyline

Insurance con-man Eddie Adams is sent to trial, but his brother, Dan Adams, who is working for District Attorney Harrison, botches the prosecution and forces the judge to let Eddie go free. Without explaining himself, Dan resigns and goes to work for Richard Curtis, president of Consolidated Insurance, saying that he wants to make up for throwing the case by bringing Eddie to justice. When Curtis introduces Dan to employee Carol Carter, she is at first suspicious of him, but later apologizes for being rude. Meanwhile, at Duke Trotti’s interior decorator’s salon, Eddie tells Duke that he wishes to quit the liability claims racket, but Duke ignores him and tells Eddie to find some real accident victims. At Consolidated, Dan decides to visit Rusick of Rusick, Collins and Allen, the law firm representing most of the questionable claims. Rusick refuses to see Dan, but says he will meet him at Consolidated in a few days when he comes to pick up a settlement check. When Rusick comes for the check, Dan displays film footage of Rusick’s supposedly crippled client, also known as “Dislocation Daisy,” walking unaided. As Dan and Carol leave the office after working late one night, they are attacked by Carney and Moxey, two of Duke’s men. When Carol screams, Sam Beldon, a detective friend of Dan, comes to the rescue. They trace the license plate of the attackers’ car and discover that it belongs to Duke. At Duke’s office, Chick, another of Duke’s cronies, takes the cast off the broken leg of Mrs. Turner, whom they plan to use in a phoney car crash. However, they miscalculate and the woman is killed, so that Duke must appoint himself the guardian of her young son in order to get the claim. Meanwhile, Dan has gone to visit Eddie, who has quit the racket to marry Tonia, the receptionist at Duke’s salon. Duke arrives, then asks Eddie to stop by the salon for his wedding present. When Eddie comes for his present the next day, they murder him. Posing as a decorator, Carol enters the salon and Duke instantly suspects her. Duke offers her work and gives her her first assignment: to visit a customer with Carney. On the road, they come upon another car and Carol tries to slow down, but Carney steps on the accelerator, causing the car to run over Eddie’s body in the road. Carney then spills liquor all over Carol so that the police think she is drunk. In jail, Carol tells her story to Dan, who promises to defend her. Dan and Sam discover that the cuts in Eddie’s body contain lint from Duke’s salon. They ask Tonia to lead them to Duke’s salon, where they find Eddie’s bloodstains and some lint on the floor. Tonia phones Duke and demands to know where Eddie is, while Dan and Sam hide. Duke arrives at the salon and admits that he killed Eddie. They arrest him, but just as they telephone headquarters, Carney enters. Dan places a box of matches under the receiver to prop it up so that headquarters will hear everything and send help. Tonia fires a gun she has hidden in her purse and hits Duke’s arm, and when he drops his gun, Dan grabs it. Sam, Moxey and Chick arrive simultaneously, and when Sam orders Duke to put his hands up, Duke pulls the light switch. There is a scramble and Duke and his men make a run for it, but the police have the salon surrounded, and the gang is arrested. Finally, in Harrison’s office, Curtis and Harrison fight over who will win Dan’s services, but Dan decides to go back to crime fighting as soon as he returns from his honeymoon with Carol.

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Easy Money Movie Reviews

After A Brisk Beginning, All That Occurs Is As An Audience Will Have Expected And Wished.

Accident insurance premium costs are sharply rising due to fraud schemes organized by “Duke” Trotti (Noel Madison), an oily interior decorator, along with an unscrupulous attorney, Mr. Rusick (John Dilson), who offer generous cash payoffs to bogus victims of rigged “accidents”, the two knaves supervising an accomplished band of con artists. A diligent police detective, Sam Belden (Robert Homans), nabs one of these scoundrels in the act of arranging a fake injury incident but, despite the District Attorney’s confidence that a conviction will be attained, an assistant D.A. in charge of preparing the filing, Dan Adams (Onslow Stevens) deliberately arranges to lose the case through below standard preparation, because his younger brother, Eddie (Allen Vincent), using a different surname, is the arrestee/defendant, and it appears that the vile gang of schemers will continue to flourish, successfully gathering in more illegitimate proceeds. Feelings of guilt over his purposefully poor court performance cause Don to resign from his position with the District Attorney’s Office, and he hires on with a private insurance firm, Consolidated, with a purpose of exposing and defeating the racketeers, this with assistance from a comely Consolidated clerk (Kay Linaker) who goes undercover in an attempt to entrap the clever swindlers. At this same time, Eddie decides to quit the racket and takes a wife as well, but Duke does not intend to permit Eddie’s survival outside of the gang, and as he is no longer considered trustworthy by the group’s members, and since Don does not believe that Eddie’s unlawful ways are at an end, the latter’s tribulations mount and perilous circumstances are in the offing for both of the brothers. Efficiently directed by veteran journeyman Phil Rosen, the film follows a fairly original plot theme that focuses upon insurance fraud and that helps in the development of a smartly paced melodrama that offers solid turns from several in the cast, notably Homans, and also Barbara Barondess playing as a new bride hopeful that she may persuade her husband to remain, for the safety of both of them, upon a straight and narrow path. Reissued in a DVD format, without much needed remastering, by Alpha Home Entertainment, its print has moderate debris issues throughout, while its sound quality is often poor, especially synchronization. As is its custom, Alpha provides no extras of value, but yet must be complimented for making available such lightly known films as this often pleasing programmer from the mid-1930s.

Flop Artists

Onslow Stevens is an Assistant District Attorney who blows a case against “flop artists”. Those are people who make fraudulent claims against insurance companies for accidents against people who carry their policies. It’s a problem we still have today. Stevens’ failure is motivated by his brother, Allen Vincent, being part of the ring headed by Noel Madison, who uses his antiques-and-decorating business to hide the cash.

Stevens goes to work for an insurance company, where he can get a larger view of the problem, and where his invaluable assistant is Carol Carter. After a few weeks, he gets the picture: flop artists, some shady doctors, and some crooked lawyers are what is needed to make the racket pay. Because everyone believes that insurance companies have lots of money, the payouts are big, and premiums go up. People get mad at the insurance companies and juries write bigger checks.

However, Stevens begins making headway, and Vicent gets married and goes straight, even though he won’t rat on the gang. Not everyone believes that, though.

It’s a pretty good movie directed by Phil Rosen in a busy year for the Poverty Row director, just one of nine movies he cranked out that year. The acting is good, the dialogue and visuals move at a good clip and the result is a movie that must have pleased both the audiences and the insurance companies.

Onslow Stevens would have been disbarred

A truly terrible premise keeps this film from really a top notch noir crime drama. Otherwise considering that Easy Money comes out of a poverty row studio this could have been a minor classic.

Easy Money is about an organized gang who make a good living at staging accidents and collecting from lawsuits engendered therein. Debonair and swarthy antique dealer Noel Madison who populated dozens of crime dramas in the 30s heads the racket in this city. One of the people involved is the brother of Assistant District Attorney Onslow Stevens, Allen Vincent.

Stevens gets the case to prosecute and he throws it and doesn’t bother to tell his boss until after the trial that Vincent using an alias is his brother. Sorry folks, then as now a resignation would not have sufficed. The Bar Association would have weighed and in all likelihood Onslow Stevens would have been disbarred. Certainly Stevens would not have been hired by an insurance company because he came up with a scheme to nail the organized gang of crooks perpetrating these phony accidents.

Easy Money is cheap, still it’s decently acted and directed. But how could the creators at Invincible Pictures have made such a catastrophic plot premise blunder?