Special Investigator


1h 11m 1936
Special Investigator

Brief Synopsis

A crooked criminal lawyer discovers his brother has been killed by one of the gangsters he kept out of prison.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fugitive Gold
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 8, 1936
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 24 Apr 1936
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Fugitive Road" by Erle Stanley Gardner in Herald Tribune's This Week Magazine (26 May--7 Jul 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
5,506ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

When his brother George, an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is killed during a raid on suspected gold thieves, California criminal lawyer Bill Fenwick, whose success as a gangster "mouthpiece" has brought him dubious notoriety, quits his lucrative practice and joins the Justice Department. Determined to find George's killer, Bill takes a tip from former client Bennie Gray that the gangsters are "re-mining" the stolen gold as ore and investigates a story that the Gold Bar Mine of Quartzburg, Nevada has reopened after a sudden gold strike. In Quartzburg, Bill, who has opened a law office under the name Richard Galt, meets attractive Virginia Selton and, aware that she is connected to the Gold Bar, follows her to Reno one night. There Virginia, who is the sister of George's killer, wounded gangster Edward J. Selton, picks up Dr. Vic Reynolds at the Reno airport. On the highway back to the ranch, Virginia's automobile, which has been sabotaged by Bill, breaks down, and Bill conveniently offers the duo a ride. Attracted to Bill, Virginia allows him to drive to the ranch and introduces him to Jim Plummer and the other gangsters. While Reynolds doctors Selton, Plummer and Bill, who describes himself as a small-town lawyer, play a tense hand of poker. Eager for information, Bill returns to the ranch the next day and soon develops a close relationship with Virginia. Plummer, however, suspects Bill and, overriding Selton's orders to leave him alone, has another gangster shoot at him. When Virginia is wounded instead, Selton, weak with fever, rails against Plummer. Then Bill learns that Virginia is Selton's sister and that the F.B.I. is planning a midnight raid on the ranch. Anxious to protect Virginia, Bill takes her dancing in Reno, where Bennie and a former girl friend unwittingly expose him to the gangsters. Alerted, Plummer decides to flee the ranch and, after tying up Selton, steals the gold. Plummer then takes Virginia hostage, but before he and his men escape, Selton breaks free and confronts them at gunpoint. Sure that Virginia has betrayed him, Selton calls her a "rat," and begins shooting at Plummer. As the surviving gangsters attempt to flee, the police apprehend them, while Bill faces Selton, who finally succumbs to his wounds. His revenge satisfied, Bill comforts Virginia as they drive away from the ranch.

Film Details

Also Known As
Fugitive Gold
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
May 8, 1936
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 24 Apr 1936
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the story "Fugitive Road" by Erle Stanley Gardner in Herald Tribune's This Week Magazine (26 May--7 Jul 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
5,506ft (6 reels)

Articles

Special Investigator


Warner Brothers demanded such exclusivity from bestselling mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of indefatigable defense attorney Perry Mason (hero of a series of Warner Brothers whodunits and played by Warren William, Ricardo Cortez, and Donald Woods) was so exclusive that the writer was forbidden, even if he and the studio were to part ways, from selling the character to other interested parties for a period of three years. Luckily, Mason was not the only ace that Gardner had up his sleeve and in 1936 he sold unrelated stories to Eastern Service Studios and RKO Radio Pictures. Based on Gardner's tale "Fugitive Gold" (which had been serialized nationally in the spring of 1935), Special Investigator (1936) stars Richard Dix as a Mob mouthpiece who changes his tune when his FBI agent brother is rubbed out by racketeers. Going undercover for the Justice Department, Dix succeeds in ankling the syndicate with the help of Margaret Callahan, sister of his brother's killer, J. Carroll Naish. RKO had originally announced Preston Foster as the star of Special Investigator, with Lucille Ball assigned to a supporting role, but a regime change within the studio favored Dix, an Academy Award nominee for Cimarron (1930). The film's director, Louis King, was the kid brother of Henry King, who helmed Song of Bernadette (1939) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949). A specialist in westerns, Louis King also directed a number of franchise whodunits, among them Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935).

By Richard Harland Smith
Special Investigator

Special Investigator

Warner Brothers demanded such exclusivity from bestselling mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of indefatigable defense attorney Perry Mason (hero of a series of Warner Brothers whodunits and played by Warren William, Ricardo Cortez, and Donald Woods) was so exclusive that the writer was forbidden, even if he and the studio were to part ways, from selling the character to other interested parties for a period of three years. Luckily, Mason was not the only ace that Gardner had up his sleeve and in 1936 he sold unrelated stories to Eastern Service Studios and RKO Radio Pictures. Based on Gardner's tale "Fugitive Gold" (which had been serialized nationally in the spring of 1935), Special Investigator (1936) stars Richard Dix as a Mob mouthpiece who changes his tune when his FBI agent brother is rubbed out by racketeers. Going undercover for the Justice Department, Dix succeeds in ankling the syndicate with the help of Margaret Callahan, sister of his brother's killer, J. Carroll Naish. RKO had originally announced Preston Foster as the star of Special Investigator, with Lucille Ball assigned to a supporting role, but a regime change within the studio favored Dix, an Academy Award nominee for Cimarron (1930). The film's director, Louis King, was the kid brother of Henry King, who helmed Song of Bernadette (1939) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949). A specialist in westerns, Louis King also directed a number of franchise whodunits, among them Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935). By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Fugitive Gold. A Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Baby Marie Osborne, a former child star who was working as Ginger Rogers' stand-in, had been cast in her first adult role in this production, but her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to Hollywood Reporter production charts, Boothe Howard and Frank M. Thomas were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources state that this film made $91,000 in profits for RKO.