Cast & Crew
After a $50,000 ransom is put in the designated spot to free kidnap victim Herbert Scott, a millionaire candy maker, Scott's profligate nephew, Larry Scott, is suspected of the crime by police chief Howell. Federal agent J. J. Morrison and his female assistant, Betty Mason, think differently, however, and set out to solve the case. Meanwhile, Dad Kimball, the caretaker at Scott's mountain cabin, accidentally finds the ransom money before the kidnappers and telephones Larry, who lives in Los Angeles. Because the police have tapped Larry's wire, they know that he and Kimball will be meeting at a tavern. When Larry arrives, Betty is there and starts a conversation with him. While they talk, the real kidnappers, McBride, Mole and Joe, take Kimball into another room and kill him when Kimball refuses to tell them where he put the ransom money. Later, when Kimball's body is discovered, Betty finds Kimball's hat and discovers one of the ransom bills inside. When she rushes out of the cafe, Larry follows her, but she disappears. Hoping to find the ransom money himself, Larry and his friend Dan leave for the mountain cabin, followed by the kidnappers, and finally by Betty, who arrives several hours before the others on a small plane. On their way up the mountain roads, Larry and Dan's car is almost forced off the road when Hathaway, a cohort of the kidnappers, takes a shot at them. When they arrive at the village, they encounter Betty again, and are suspicious when they see that she is driving a car similar to the one that Hathaway had driven. Betty learns from Jed, the storekeeper, that Kimball had left a box of empty shells with him just before going to meet Larry in Los Angeles. Hathaway also learns this and reports to McBride and the others that the ransom money must be in the box of shells. Because Jed had casually told Hathaway that Larry and his friend would be getting a grocery delivery the next morning and the shells would go with the delivery, Hathaway convinces McBride to steal the box that night. Unknown to Hathaway, however, Larry and Dan had gotten hungry and had asked Jed to have Bill Brooks, the grocery boy, deliver their order that evening. Late that night, while Jed is sleeping, Betty sends Morrison a coded wire telling him to join her as soon as possible. She then sneaks out of her hotel to go to Jed's store and get the box of shells, which she also deduced contained the ransom money. Before she gets to the store, however, McBride and Mole arrive and are ready to shoot Jed for the box. She interrupts them, then has Jed hold a gun on them while she goes to Larry's cabin and Jed calls the local sheriff. When the sheriff comes, McBride and Mole struggle with him and escape, then go toward Larry's cabin. At the cabin, Betty shows Larry the real contents of the shell box and wants him to leave with her. Just then, she sees Hathaway at the window and the lights go out, after which Larry is knocked unconscious. Revived a few moments later, Larry discovers a secret passage way and he, Dan and Betty follow the passage to a cave where they find Scott being held prisoner. They free Scott, then Dan takes him out of the cave. As Betty and Larry are about to leave, however, McBride and his men arrive and capture them. Before McBride escapes, he ties Larry up in the cabin and sets it on fire. On his way down the mountain road, however, Morrison and the police capture him. When Morrison finds Betty, who has escaped, she tells them about Larry and they arrive just in time to save him from the burning cabin. Finally, with everything sorted out about the case, Larry and Betty decide to marry and sail to Hawaii on their honeymoon.
Variety incorrectly lists the name of the character played by Harry Harvey as "Mike" and the character played by George Moore as "Halliday." According to a news item in Film Daily, this was the first of a proposed series of six "girl detective" pictures, however, no additional titles in the series have been identified. According to information in the file on the film contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Held for Ransom was not issued a PCA certificate because the ransom/kidnapping aspect of the picture, which was its main thrust, was in violation of the Production Code. The pertinent part of the Code of which the picture was said to be in violation was Section A, paragraph 11 of the Production Code, "Crime in Motion Pictures."