Cafe Hostess


1h 5m 1939

Brief Synopsis

Jo (Ann Dvorak), a "percentage girl" at the notorious Club 46, is in despair. She can see no way out of the dreary and sordid routine of entertaining customers - called drinking and dancing in 1940 - and, at a signal from piano player Eddie Morgan (Douglas Fowley), rolling them for their money. Eddie, besides being brutal to her and spending all her money, is also carrying on an affair with another girl. Jo's only friend is Annie (Wynne Gibson), a former actress but now a drink-sodden derelict. Annie keeps to herself the knowledge that it was Eddie who threw the knife that killed a petty racketeer who was too attentive to Jo. Sailor Dan Walters (Preston Foster) and two of his pals arrive from a cruise and his good nature delights Joe, but at a wink from Eddie, Jo attempts to steal his money. Dan swallows his disillusionment and returns to the cafe, and he and Jo enjoy a day-long picnic together. She accepts his marriage proposal and go to an up-state town where he has a job waiting. Eddie does not accept this turn events any too well, and sets a trap for Dan when he comes after Jo. When he arrives, in an attempt to save his life, Jo denounces and ridicules him and he leaves angrily. He is net by Annie, who tells him of the set-up. Gathering his pals, Dan returns to the cafe and starts a brawl.

Film Details

Also Known As
Street of Missing Women
Release Date
Nov 30, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

While patrolling the streets of the tenderloin district of a large city, plainclothesman Steve Mason enters "Club 46," a waterfront clipjoint owned by Eddie Morgan, a racketeer who poses as the piano player. Annie, a former hostess at "Club 46," is hostess Jo's friend, and when she returns to the club to tell Eddie that he ruined her life, she urges Jo to get Eddie arrested. While at the club, Annie witnesses Jo being harassed by racketeer Red Connolly, and starts a fight. When Dan Walter, a seaman on shore leave, and his two pals arrive at the club, they soon fall prey to Eddie's racket. Although Jo begins to enjoy Dan's company and would rather not "roll" him, she is compelled to follow Eddie's signals to do so. When Jo's attempt to steal from Dan fails, he leaves the place disillusioned. Dan returns, notices that Jo's face is bruised and, realizing that she has been attacked, asks her to marry him and leave with him to live in a small town. Jo accepts Dan's proposal, but when Nellie, who operates a nearby boardinghouse, overhears their plans, she reports Jo to Eddie. Returning to the clipjoint to say goodbye, Jo discovers that Eddie is planning to kill Dan. Jo desperately seeks Annie's help, but the drunken Annie bungles things and allows Dan to fall into Eddie's trap. As a last resort, Jo decides to try to force Dan's departure by ridiculing him before Eddie, and her plan works. When Dan is informed by Annie of the murder plot and Jo's attempt to save him, he returns to the club and starts a fight. While Steve, who has been trailing Eddie in connection with a warehouse hold-up, calls the riot police, Annie grabs Eddie's knife. The police arrive, break up the riot, and Eddie's stabbed body is found on the floor. Annie confesses to Steve that it was she who killed Eddie, and, realizing that the law demands that she be punished for it, is led away willingly as Dan and Jo leave to begin a new life in a small town.

Film Details

Also Known As
Street of Missing Women
Release Date
Nov 30, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A working title for this film was Street of Missing Women. This was the first film in which actor Herman Brix was credited as Bruce Bennett. According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in August 1939 the PCA warned Columbia that the story was in violation of the Production Code in three respects: First because of its "general sordid, low-toned background and flavor; second because the hero is shown to be a thief who is allowed to go off unpunished; and third because "Annie," a murderess, is also permitted to "go off scot-free." The PCA suggested to Columbia studio head Harry Cohn that he lift the story out of the "foul background of a low class beer dive and make the locale a swanky Broadway night club, whose patrons will not be unattached girls-'B' girls." The PCA also urged Cohn to make other changes in the script, including having "Jo" played as a straight non-criminal; eliminating anything that would suggest that the girls were prostitutes; and the removal of any implication that "Jo" and "Eddie" were having sex. Regional censorship reports contained in the PCA file indicate that censors in Alberta, Canada, and Pennsylvania ordered the removal of the following subtitle, which appeared at the beginning of the film: "B-Girls...Bar Girls...Cafe Hostesses...Products of a man-made system, these girls whose stock in a trade is a tireless smile, a sympathetic ear and a shoddy evening gown, they prey on the very men who made them what they are. The Cafe Hostess knows only one law...A lady must live!"