A Fugitive from Justice


53m 1940
A Fugitive from Justice

Brief Synopsis

An insurance investigator gets caught between cops and crooks when he hides the beneficiary of a million-dollar policy.

Film Details

Also Known As
Million Dollar Fugitive, Waiting for Lepke
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 15, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
53m
Film Length
6 reels

Synopsis

Dan Miller, a special investigator for a life insurance company, and his partner, Ziggy, are assigned to find attorney Lee Leslie, the mouthpiece for a gang of criminals led by Julie Alexander, who holds a life insurance policy with the company. The investigators' job is complicated by the fact that the gang is trying to bump Leslie off before he can testify against them in court. To make matters worse, when the gangsters attempt to frame Leslie for the murder of a police officer, the lawyer flees and the police join in the search for him. Meanwhile, Ruby Patterson, a nightclub singer who stands to gain one million dollars from Leslie's insurance policy, tips the gang off to Leslie's hideout, but the clever Leslie avoids their trap. Dan and Ziggy plant a bug in Ruby's room and listen as she, Alexander and the other mobsters plan the kidnapping of Leslie's sister Janet and his mother Henrietta, who have been in hiding since Leslie's alleged police shooting. Hoping to get to Janet and Henrietta before the mobsters do, Dan goes to the hideout and has the police take them to safety. Dan, however, does not escape in time and is found in the apartment by the mobsters. When Leslie phones the hideout, Ruby impersonates Janet to find out his whereabouts and, after tying up Dan, leads the gangsters to him. Soon after the gangsters leave, Ziggy arrives at the hideout and frees Dan, who then finds Leslie before the mobsters do. Although he believes in Leslie's innocence, Dan takes him to Rhode Island to answer the murder charges, but Leslie gives him the slip en route. Meanwhile, the gangsters succeed in kidnapping Janet and Henrietta and take them to an old warehouse. When Dan and Leslie discover where Janet and Henrietta are being held, they, along with the police, converge upon the warehouse and rescue them. Leslie overpowers Alexander, and the police tear gas the building and kill Alexander. When Leslie emerges from the warehouse, he turns himself in with the assurance that Dan will clear him of the murder charge.

Film Details

Also Known As
Million Dollar Fugitive, Waiting for Lepke
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Jun 15, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
53m
Film Length
6 reels

Articles

A Fugitive from Justice -


This second string Warner Brothers crime comedy got less attention from critics and moviegoers in the summer of 1940 than it did from the Production Code Administration, which demanded several cuts to what it seemed censorable material. Based on newspaper coverage of the criminal career of "Murder, Inc." founder Louis "Lepke" Buchalter (then in federal custody and fated to be the only major mob boss to pay for his sins in the electric chair), A Fugitive from Justice finds underworld lawyer Lee Leslie (Donald Douglas) taking it on the lam from his own shady clients, who would rather see him dead than testify against them. Coming to Leslie's rescue is intrepid insurance agent Dan Miller (Roger Pryor), who must contend not only with murderous thugs but also with the FBI, after gang boss "Julie" Alexander (Morgan Conway, later star of RKO's Dick Tracy) sticks Leslie with the blame for the killing of a cop. Plot points that the PCA found offensive included the threat of violence against police (a longstanding no-no prohibited by the Hollywood Production Code) and an excessively violent shootout but the agency pressed harder still to squelch such incidentals as a visible men's room sign and a bit of business in which a character lets the air out of a car tire. PCA memoranda also objected to Eddie Foy, Jr.'s gag line about wearing pink underwear, concerned that the crack might be perceived as a confession of homosexuality.

By Richard Harland Smith
A Fugitive From Justice -

A Fugitive from Justice -

This second string Warner Brothers crime comedy got less attention from critics and moviegoers in the summer of 1940 than it did from the Production Code Administration, which demanded several cuts to what it seemed censorable material. Based on newspaper coverage of the criminal career of "Murder, Inc." founder Louis "Lepke" Buchalter (then in federal custody and fated to be the only major mob boss to pay for his sins in the electric chair), A Fugitive from Justice finds underworld lawyer Lee Leslie (Donald Douglas) taking it on the lam from his own shady clients, who would rather see him dead than testify against them. Coming to Leslie's rescue is intrepid insurance agent Dan Miller (Roger Pryor), who must contend not only with murderous thugs but also with the FBI, after gang boss "Julie" Alexander (Morgan Conway, later star of RKO's Dick Tracy) sticks Leslie with the blame for the killing of a cop. Plot points that the PCA found offensive included the threat of violence against police (a longstanding no-no prohibited by the Hollywood Production Code) and an excessively violent shootout but the agency pressed harder still to squelch such incidentals as a visible men's room sign and a bit of business in which a character lets the air out of a car tire. PCA memoranda also objected to Eddie Foy, Jr.'s gag line about wearing pink underwear, concerned that the crack might be perceived as a confession of homosexuality. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Working titles for this film were Million Dollar Fugitive and Waiting for Lepke. An October 18, 1939 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Republic Pictures Corp. purchased the rights to "Million Dollar Fugitive," a series of newspaper stories that appeared in the New York World Telegram, written by Jack Foster. Hollywood Reporter noted that the stories were "about the life of Louis Lepke Buchalter, racketeer." Although Fugitive from Justice appears to be about Buchalter, there is no indication that Warner Bros. used Foster's story as the basis for the film. The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that the PCA, in October 1939, urged Warner Bros. to eliminate a number of censorable items from the script, including scenes showing "Ruby" dressed in a "scanty costume"; a gun battle between gangsters and police officers; the offensive portrayal of reporters; the sign "men" over a washroom; police dying at the hands of criminals and the letting of air out of tires. The PCA also warned the studio that "there should be nothing suggestive of a 'pansy' act where Ziggy mentions [that he] wears pink shorts."