Cast & Crew
After aspiring actor Matt Ryan is fired from his job as a publicity "stooge" to matinee idol John Nelson, he is rehired to play stooge to Dennis Poole, an aging star whose box office appeal is on the wane. Although his publicist girl friend, Ann Wray, insists that he would be happier as the owner of a hamburger stand, Matt accepts the humiliation that goes along with being an actor's flunky because Maurice Tenwright, the coldblooded studio head, has promised him a part in one of his films. Eager to make good as a stooge, Matt accompanies Dennis to the opening of the Joshua Club, a swank, out-of-the-way gambling spot. At the opening, which is also attended by the fickle but tempting Eileen Baker, a featured player, Matt participates in a publicity gag in which he picks a fight with and then fires a round of blanks at a club gambler. Soon after, Tenwright receives a tip that the club is to be raided and instructs Matt to remove Dennis from the premises. Once Dennis is gone, Matt returns to the club to warn Eileen and is caught in the police raid. During the raid, the lights go out and a gun is fired through a window. When the police captain discovers Tenwright's body, he immediately suspects Matt, who is unable to find his "stage" gun. With help from Ann, Matt escapes in Tenwright's car and, after a night "on the lamb," ends up at Dennis' house, where the captain has gathered all of the club guests for an impromptu "party." After hiding in Dennis' kitchen, Matt takes Ann to John Nelson's house and learns from the butler that Nelson took his gun with him that night. Sure that Nelson, who had been fighting with Tenwright over his acting contract, is the killer, Matt returns to the party and confronts him. To Matt's dismay, Nelson is cleared by the captain, who then declares that, through a special form of "handprinting," he can determine the murderer's identity. Cornered, Dennis finally confesses to the crime, thus freeing Matt to give up his stooge career and buy a hamburger stand with the ever-faithful Ann.
The working title of the film was Birthday of a Stooge. According to a Film Daily news item, Paul Yawitz was hired to work the script, but his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" adds Richard Lane, Robert Glecker and Cecil Kellaway to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. RKO borrowed Eleanor Lynn from M-G-M for the production. Fugitives for a Night was writer Dalton Trumbo's first credited script for RKO.