Cast & Crew
Band leader Albert Darnell shows up late for work one night at the Club Sirocco. Just outside in the parking lot, two thugs are waiting to pick up their gangster boss Bochini's girl friend, Ruth Parmalee, but instead witness her murder by a woman wearing an evening gown. The next day, Mordecai Breen, who owns the Friend in Need Publishing Co., decides to investigate an advertisement placed in his paper by Darnell, who moonlights as a mystery writer. The ad reads: "I'll buy your life." Breen waits outside Darnell's apartment as Darnell and his girl friend, singer Valencia Duncan, interview Dale Leyden, who uses the alias Mary Jones. Dale reveals that her parents are dead, and she is in desperate need of $20,000 to pay for an operation to restore her artist brother Phillip's eyesight. Darnell and Valencia give Dale a $2,000 advance for a mysterious job that will cost her her life, and assure her that they will pay whomever she likes after her death. Breen eagerly introduces himself to Dale as she leaves the apartment, and she agrees to call him if she should ever need help. At home, Dale lies to her brother that she has inherited a large sum of money from their uncle in Brazil, and that he will have his operation while she goes to South America to obtain the money. Breen, meanwhile goes to see police detective Hammer about Darnell's mysterious advertisement, but Hammer is too involved in investigating Ruth's murder to take much notice. Breen, who donates his income to needy families, is delighted when Dale comes to his office seeking legal advice, for which he charges twenty-five cents. After he agrees to be the executor of her will, Dale gives Breen two envelopes, one which he is to open after he receives $18,000 upon her death, and will instruct him how to spend the money. The other envelope contains her whole story, and she instructs him to open it only if he does not receive the $18,000. Breen agrees to the job on condition that Dale joins him at the Club Sirocco for dinner. That night, Breen asks club owner Grady to put the envelopes in his safe, and Grady gives Breen a receipt. Breen notices Darnell's reaction when Dale arrives at the restaurant, but he is unable to elicit any information from Dale about her arrangement with the band leader. Observant Breen, who has fallen in love with Dale, notices that her bracelet is missing a pearl, and her shoe is missing some leather, two items that were found at the scene of Ruth's murder. Valencia is shocked to see Dale in the club and confronts her in the lobby. Dale informs her that she wanted Valencia to be able to identify Breen, whom she is to pay, and that she has given Breen the entire story in an envelope should Valencia and Darnell fail to pay him. Without bidding Breen farewell, Dale turns herself in to the police as Ruth's killer. Before she leaves the club, however, Bochini's thugs also identify her, and report back to their boss. Bochini, who was deeply in love with Ruth, threatens Hammer's life if he does not bring Dale to justice. Breen is convinced that Dale is innocent, but she refuses to disclose the truth. The envelopes Dale gave Breen become sought after by an attorney, who tells Bochini that his client will pay handsomely for them. Bochini sends for Breen and threatens his life if he does not cooperate. Breen is adept at deflecting Bochini's threats, but fails to notice when Bochini finds Grady's receipt for the envelopes among the contents of his pockets. Bochini steals the envelopes, but Breen assumes that Darnell stole them after he learns that the band leader is a silent partner in the club, and is the only other person who has the combination to the safe. When Dale learns that Darnell may have taken the envelopes, she realizes that she has been double-crossed and confesses. Bochini, meanwhile, disappears with Valencia. Darnell, unaware of the theft, agrees to pay Breen the $18,000 in exchange for the envelope, and Breen double-crosses him with a fake envelope. Hammer has eavesdropped on their conversation and arrests Darnell, because Bochini brought Valencia in to the police and she confessed to Ruth's murder. Valencia, who killed Ruth out of jealousy, arranged with Darnell to frame Dale. Later, Phil's vision is restored by his operation, and he happily reads the Friend in Need headline announcing Breen and Dale's marriage.
Charles Henkel Jr.
Geo. M. Merrick
The working title of this film was I'll Buy Your Life.