Sucker Money

Directors: Dorothy Reid Davenport & Melville Shyer

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A newsman, Jimmy (Earl McCarthy), begins to investigate the spiritualist racket, posing as an actor for hire & willing to play any number of ghostly presences. A fake Swami capable of murder goes by the silly-ass name Swami Yo'Murda (Mischa Auer), a character Auer had once previously played in Sinister Hands (1932). Yo'Murda scries crystal balls & his girlfriend Princess Karami, an ex-hoochie dancer (billed as "Mona Lisa"), conjures ghosts.

Assisted by an extensive gang of thieves, they put on a magic show for gullible rubes. The spirits encourage investments in phoney stocks & oil fields. Whenever they reach the really big score, they leave town en masse & set up their scam in another city.

The film advertised itself as "an expose of the psychic racket" & perhaps it had an actual agenda to educate, but it should've stuck to an agenda to entertain, which it does poorly.

One of the performers is a drunkard (Mae Busch) who has a sweet sadness about her, but nevertheless helps pull the scams without remorse. Hers is the closest the film has to a well-done performance with any depth. When at last she has a change of criminal heart & does the right thing, she pays the ultimate price.

When the swami catches on to the pending expose, he ties up the reporter & hypnotizes the heroine Clare (Phyllis Barrington). There follows sundry unsophisticated melodramatics & a chase-scene, all of which gets less & less credible until the swami gets his just deserts & the hero & heroine become engaged.

Pretty damned slight, & not quite an hour long.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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