Midnight Taxi


1h 13m 1937

Brief Synopsis

G-Man Chick Gardner (Brian Donlevy), posing as a taxi driver, convinces the members of a counterfeiting gang that he is on their side and is taken into the organization by Philip Strickland (Alan Dinehart), the boss, over the objections of gang lieutenant Flash Dillon (Gilbert Roland.) Gardner meets Gilda Lee (Frances Drake), a member of the gang, and learns of the planned smuggling of a load of counterfeit money at a remote wharf. He arranges with the Federal officers to foil the landing but their presence is detected and the gang escapes, with Gardner being wounded in the melee by his own men. Dillon discovers Gardner's true identity and tells Gilda to take him for a ride. Instead, she helps Gardner kill Dillon, in return for which he promises her immunity. She goes with Strickland to the yacht of John Rudd (Sig Rumann), who is the secret leader of the counterfeiters. Gardner and the federal agents follow her.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 2, 1937
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Mar 1937
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on a story by Borden Chase in Argosy (publication date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,610ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Taxi driver Lucky Todd forces off a cliff the car of a reporter investigating a prominent citizen, who is secretly running a counterfeit ring. Later, when Lucky gets a call to deliver a package of counterfeit money, he finds that his car will not start, so he asks another driver, Chick Gardner, to take the package for him. Chick leaves just as police arrive to question Lucky. Afterward, Chick tells Lucky that he threw the package into a sewer when he saw that the police were following him. The police apprehend them both for questioning, and in Lucky's presence, Chick is slugged by the chief of police. After they are released, Chick, who is working undercover for the Secret Service, berates Lucky for allowing him to carry something risky without getting paid for it and hits him. Impressed with Chick, Lucky's superior in the ring, importer Philip Strickland, picks him to drive for a delivery. Greatly upset, Lucky pulls a gun on Strickland, whereupon Chick struggles with him. Strickland shoots Lucky and orders Chick to take Lucky's money to make it look like a robbery. Strickland then hires Chick as the new manager of his district and introduces him to Flash Dillon, his cohort, and Gilda Lee, who owes a debt of gratitude to Strickland. When Flash voices suspicions about Chick, Strickland asks Gilda, who seems to like Chick, to find out about him. Gilda goes to dinner with Chick and proposes that he keep some of the money he collects for Strickland and that they split the amount after she changes the figures in Strickland's books. Chick declines, saying that he does not want to double-cross Stickland, and when Gilda reports this, Strickland is convinced that he has picked a good man. Strickland sends Flash with Chick to Fisherman's Cove to pick up a new series of five-dollar bills. On the way, Chick speeds to attract the attention of police, and when he is pulled over, he shows a traffic cop a note written on his license that instructs the cop to contact J. W. McNeary of the U.S. Secret Service. During a gun battle at Fisherman's Cove, Chick slugs a cop struggling with Gilda before being shot himself in the shoulder. He then drives off with Gilda, and after he slumps over, she drives them to a house and gets an old woman living there to put him up. Gilda calls the mob's doctor, and after the bullet is removed, she volunteers to remain with Chick while he recuperates. When Flash retrieves Chick's clothes from a tailor, he sees the note on Chick's license. He shows Gilda the note and then plans to kill Chick on the way back to town. Gilda, however, tells Chick and gives him a gun. When Flash pulls a gun on him, Chick shoots him, then jumps on Gilda's car as she tries to drive away. In town, Chick tells Gilda that he will give her time to pack and get away and kisses her as he leaves her at her apartment. McNeary and Chick follow Gilda and Strickland to the pier, where Chick jumps onto the back of their motorboat. In the fog, they arrive at a yacht where Strickland explains to John Rudd, the secret head of the ring, that he had to bring Gilda. Feeling endangered by their knowledge of his identity, Rudd kills Strickland. He then finds Gilda with Chick, and when he learns that the police are approaching in boats, Rudd threatens to shoot Chick unless the police turn around. Chick yells for them to keep coming, and as Rudd is about to kill him, Gilda shoots Rudd. Gilda is sentenced to ten years, but her sentence is suspended, and she is paroled to Chick's custody for the ten years. When he hears this, he says, "You mean for life!"

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 2, 1937
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Mar 1937
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on a story by Borden Chase in Argosy (publication date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,610ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in the original story, the main character is a veteran taxi driver who secretly becomes a Federal agent connected with the Bureau of Narcotics. He is sent to New York, where he becomes a member of two rival gangs and plays both against each other to crush the dope ring. On August 1, 1935, Joseph Breen, Director of the PCA, wrote to the studio to tell them that because the Production Code prohibits pictures dealing with the illegal drug traffic, the prospective film would be rejected by the PCA. In September 1935, after Twentieth Century-Fox argued that the story included very little detail regarding the traffic in drugs, Breen wrote that the film might be rejected because of a recent ruling of the MPPDA Board which forbid the showing of pictures depicting American gangsters armed and in conflict with the law or law-enforcing bodies. Darryl Zanuck, the vice-president in charge of production at Twentieth Century-Fox, decided not to pursue the matter any further at that time. Sometime later, Samuel Goldwyn purchased the motion picture rights to the story, but through a deal involving other properties, Twentieth Century-Fox came into possession of the rights to the story again at the end of 1936. On December 22, 1936, Breen read a synopsis of their new treatment and declared that it was in violation of both the Production Code and the special agreement of the MPPDA Board regarding gangster films, and expressed the hope that "you will dismiss it from further consideration." The studio then submitted an incomplete script on January 29, 1937, in which the gang in the story was involved in the counterfeit racket, rather than in drug traffic. Although Breen objected to the fact that "Gilda" gets off "scot-free" in the end, and to the "brutal killing of Strickland," the film was eventually passed by the PCA. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, James Tinling was assigned to direct the film in December 1936. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection contains a first draft continuity for this film by Kubec Glasmon that is dated one month prior to the first continuity by Lou Breslow and John Patrick. It is not known if any of Glasmon's material was used in the final film.