Sundays I try to post a bad movie, but not often this bad. This has got to be about the worst ever. It’s Inside the Law from 1942, and Wikipedia doesn’t have much about it, except this cast of characters:
- Wallace Ford as Billy
- Frank Sully as Jim Burke
- Harry Holman as Judge Mortimer Gibbs
- Luana Walters as Dora Mason
- Lafe McKee as Pop Cobb
- Barton Hepburn as Paul Kane
- Danny Duncan as Peter Clifford
- Earle Hodgins as Police Chief
- Rose Plumer as Mom Cobb
- Robert Frazer as Bank Official
It’s from Producers Releasing Company, whom we have seen before. They released a bunch of Philo Vance movies.
This starts off innocently enough—the audience doesn’t see what’s coming. There is an auction, and people crowd in to pick up some pricey imports. Up comes a Ming vase, and the bidding gets started.
The price begins to climb, and exchanges become heated. A donnybrook ensues, after which the offenders are ejected.
Things settle down, and the bidding continues. But soon customers realize they have been robbed. The squabblers were actually a gang of pickpockets creating a disturbance to distract their victims.
And to answer the question on everybody’s mind, yes, the Ming vase is ultimately broken.
Back at their hotel room the crooks count their swag. They decide to head for California.
Everybody needs to remember how things were driving to California before the Interstate.
They stop beside the road at the Los Angeles city limit sign, and presently a drunk driver pulls up close by, followed by a highway patrol officer. While the officer is preparing to arrest the offender, the gang helps him get his bearings. They also pick his pockets.
It turns out the unfortunate was on his way to take over as manager of a bank. They gang figures to substitute Billy in place of the jailed new-hire. The bank is in Walnut Valley, and a small-time outfit it is. We see a local farmer in desperate straits. He points a pistol at the bank president, Judge Mortimer Gibbs, demanding a loan to forestall foreclosure on his mortgage.
This is a friendly bank, and Judge Gibbs disarms the man and sends him on his way.
The phony bank manager arrives and is given charge of the bank. He immediately dismisses the current staff and populates the bank with members of the outlaw tribe. They inspect the vault, figuring to make a quick haul. To their surprise, the bank has no cash. This is a bank in trouble.
They figure they need to get money into the bank before they can take money out, so they cook up a scheme to get new depositors. They run a campaign that convinces town’s people to put their money in the bank. If they think their home safe is secure, the gang’s master safe cracker shows them otherwise.
Presently the bank has $70,000+ in the vault, and the new manager is feeling magnanimous. He offers a $5000 loan to the desperate farmer.
Things go swimmingly for the crooks, and they begin to think about going straight and finishing out their careers running a small town bank. But Jim has always had a crooked streak, and he has plans to take the 70K and scoot for Mexico. Billy and Luana catch him in the act. There is a scuffle, and Jim comes out on top. Luana figures to tag along with Jim, but she leaves the phone off-hook to alert the others.
Jim and Luana get stalled at the Mexican border, and there is a lengthy comedy skit involving the Mexican customs official, who has been alerted to expect them.
Then somebody arrives to keep Jim from making it across the border with the money. Meanwhile the local chief of police figures out the imposture, and he is rushing around to corral the gang members. And the bank examiner arrives, but there is no money in the vault, so everybody stalls. The money is supposed to be in Jim’s satchel, and that arrives abut the time the bank examiner finds no money in the vault.
Of course, there is no money in the vault, because Mom Cobb always takes it home at night. Then Jim comes in with the shotgun, and demands the money. They tell him the shotgun is not loaded, so he test fires it into the ceiling. A slab of plaster falls on his head, and the end that’s the end of the movie.
The movie was slated for an hour and two minutes, but the end comes at 56 minutes and some change. Everything goes black, and “The End” shows on the screen. If there is more to resolve, we never see it.