Inside Story


60m 1939

Film Details

Also Known As
A Very Practical Joke
Release Date
Mar 10, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "A Very Practical Joke" by Ben Ames Williams in The Saturday Evening Post (5 Dec 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,454ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

Three days before Christmas, newspaper reporter Barney Callahan regrets the drinking bout he went on the night before to celebrate his promotion to columnist. As Barney is lamenting not being able to get his first column in on time, his photographer, Snapper Doolan, assures Barney that he did write a column the night before while he was drunk. Barney's story details how he is the loneliest man in New York and is searching for the loneliest girl, with whom he would like to share an idyllic Christmas on an upstate farm. Barney is surprised by the response of his editor, J. B. Douglas, who thinks that the column is a winner and offers to let him use his own farm, complete with caretakers Mary and Ben Perkins, who will pose as Barney's aunt and uncle. Later that night at a "clip-joint," a nightclub in which hostesses persuade male customers to buy expensive drinks, hostess June White unhappily plies her trade while fending off the advances of the club's owner, Gus Brawley. June, who only works in the club to support her parents back home, reads Barney's column and dreams of spending an old-fashioned Christmas with him. June's roommate and co-worker Eunice warns June not to get any ideas about splitting with Brawley, as the last girl who did was killed. Brawley sends June back out on the floor, where she picks her next mark, the young and well-to-do Paul Randall. She steals Paul's wallet, and when he later complains, June witnesses Paul confront Brawley in Brawley's office. The club owner kills the youth and orders his henchman, Whitey Walker, to dispose of the body. The next morning, Whitey confides to June that he was driving all night, and June, anxious to get away, contacts Douglas about Barney's column. After Douglas choses June, Barney meets her at the train station on the day before Christmas and they go to the farm. There they are greeted by the kindly Perkinses, and June blossoms under their care and Barney's solicitude. The next day, the couples open their presents, and after Barney goes to town to replace an ornament he has broken, June bakes a pie for him. While Barney is gone, however, Brawley arrives and orders June to return with him. Convinced that June has given the details of his organization to Barney, he tries to kill her. When frantic Barney finds her in the hospital soon after, he is disillusioned to find out that she is not the wholesome girl he believed she was. She agrees to testify against Brawley, but during the trial, changes her testimony and states that she knows nothing about Paul's murder. Barney is furious, although later she reveals that she perjured herself to get in good with Brawley so that she could discover where Whitey hid Paul's body. Following a clue provided by June, Barney and Snapper find the house in New Jersey where Whitey took the corpse and alert the police. Before the police arrive though, Brawley brings June to the house to kill her. Two elderly neighbors, Flora and Dora, help rescue June, and the police arrest Brawley. Later, with the past behind them and a bright future they can look forward to, June and Barney take the train to the farm to celebrate the new year.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Very Practical Joke
Release Date
Mar 10, 1939
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "A Very Practical Joke" by Ben Ames Williams in The Saturday Evening Post (5 Dec 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,454ft (6 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was A Very Practical Joke. It was the first film directed by Ricardo Cortez and the last entry in the "Roving Reporters" series. Fox first filmed Ben Ames Williams' story in 1930 as Man Trouble, which was directed by Berthold Viertel and starred Milton Sills and Dorothy Mackaill (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3423). For more information on the series, please see the entry below for Time Out for Murder.