Dangerous to Know


1h 10m 1938

Brief Synopsis

Racketeer Steve Recka (Akim Tamiroff), art patron and political power-maker, rules his town and Madame Lan Ying (Anna May Wong), his beautiful Oriental friend and hostess (read:mistress), with an iron hand. He meets Margaret Van Kase (Gail Patrick), a socialite not impressed by his power nor his wealth, having no money herself, and Steve makes frantic efforts to win her and turns away from the loyal Lin Yang. Margaret ignores him as she plans to wed Philip Easton (Harvey Stephens), a penniless bond salesman. The furious Recka, poses as a friend to Easton, while planning to ruin him. His henchmen kidnap Easton when he is carrying a large assignment of bonds, and he is branded as a runaway thief. The only doubters are Margaret and Police Inspector Brandon (Lloyd Nolan), who knows Recka's methods and suspects foul play. Easton is found in an abandoned house and arrested as the gangsters have taken the bonds and tipped the police where to find him. Recka offers to clear Easton if Margaret will become his bride and, while her hatred for Recka is intense, her love for Easton is greater and she consents. Recka, however, has reckoned without Lan Ying.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 11, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play On the Spot by Edgar Wallace (London, 2 Apr 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

At City Hall, Nicolai "Nicky" Kusnoff, gangster Stephen Recka's henchman, overhears city councilman Murkil plotting with John Rance to take over the mayor's office. Madame Lan Ying, Recka's mistress, hosts a birthday party for him, which is attended by those who want a share in his city-wide power. Recka becomes interested in socialite Margaret Van Kase when she attends the party without an invitation. That evening, Recka coldly murders Rance after forcing him to write a suicide note. City inspector Brandon believes Recka is responsible for eight deaths, but has no evidence to convict him. Brandon and Recka share the same birthday, and for the seventh year in a row, Brandon refuses Recka's birthday "gift," a bribe. At the racetrack, Nicky reports to Recka on Margaret's fiancé, a handsome bond salesman named Philip Easton. Recka, who models himself after Napoleon Bonaparte, buys a large amount of bonds from Phil, then attends a society dinner with Margaret. Nicky impetuously reveals to Lan Ying that Recka plans to wed Margaret, after which Lan Ying warns Recka that trying to enter society is reaching beyond his grasp. Recka arranges with Crouch and Hanley to rob Phil's bonds in a manner that makes Phil appear an accessory to the crime. When Margaret calls on Recka, he promises to have Phil freed if she will marry him. Crouch and Hanley double-cross Recka, however, and keep the bonds, then are caught speeding by the police. After Lan Ying gives Phil airplane tickets that Recka had bought for a flight with Margaret, Brandon arrests Nicky to keep him from murdering Phil. Lan Ying refuses a large check offered by Recka and warns him that she will not be waiting if he returns, playing a record of "Thanks for the Memory" as a farewell. Although still determined to marry Margaret, Recka is nonetheless confused and lonely and plays a Tchaikovsky piece on his pipe organ. Behind him Lan Ying commits suicide with a knife, and just as Recka realizes something unexpected has happened, Brandon enters and arrests him. Brandon intends that Recka be convicted as the murderer of Lan Ying and thus pay for any other crimes for which he was never tried. Nicky foolishly imagines himself as Recka's successor, while Phil and Margaret fly to their honeymoon.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 11, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play On the Spot by Edgar Wallace (London, 2 Apr 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Edgar Wallace's play opened in New York on October 29, 1930 and was published as a novel in 1932. According to Wallace biographers, the play was written in four days and was based on the career of Al Capone. Anna May Wong reprised her stage role from the New York production in the movie. Passages from symphonies by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, played by "Recka" during numerous scenes, were blended into the musical score. Early Hollywood Reporter production charts list Charles Schoenbaum as photographer. According to contemporary sources, Wong capitalized on the success of the film when she toured on behalf of Chinese war relief.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1938

Released in United States 1938