Blood Money (1933) Review

Proof That It’s Pre-Code

  • Women slapped and punched in the face.
  • Sixteen year old comes in charged with criminal assault of an older woman, our main character thinks it’s pretty funny.
  • Woman dressed like a dude.
  • One of the main characters has a severe case of kleptomania and thrill stealing, as well as sexually getting off to criminals.
  • Intimidation and bribery galore.
  • Hemorrhoids pillow used as a punchline.
  • Girl gets extremely excited by luau dancing: “Pagan! Almost savage, isn’t it?!”
  • “I want a man who’s my master! Who would shoot the first man who looks at me!” “You need a good spanking.” “What I want is a good thrashing!”
  • The ending’s a little… huh.

Danny INDIFFERENTThe ending to Blood Money is an ending I think I’ve never seen before and highly doubt I’ll ever see again. A socialite named Elaine has spent the movie ricocheting between two men only to be slapped by one and spited by the other. Moments after coming to the crushing realization that she’s ruined everything she cared for, she runs into a woman exiting the elevator in a huff.

“I just had the most horrible experience I ever had in my life! I went upstairs to answer a this ad. A man named Johnson told me he wanted a model to pose for an art study. I had to fight my way out the office! My arm is bruised black and blue! He slapped me– look at my jaw!”

“What’d you say his name was?”


Elaine snatches the newspaper from her hand. “Give me that ad!”

And Elaine runs over to the elevator. To go get sexually assaulted.


Jesus, lady.

Okay, there’s some racy stuff that leads up to that (Elaine has a thing for bad boys and petty larceny), and it’s not clear whether Elaine is doing it to punish herself or because she’ll probably enjoy it, but it’s a hell of an ending for the character.

And since Elaine is easily the most interesting part of the film, it’s a pretty heady sucker punch regardless. The bulk of the movie follows Bill Bailey whose bail bonds business is built like a political machine (say that five times fast). Everyone on the force gets a turkey from him, and the rich and not-so-rich get a chance to get in good with the law.

Bailey’s romantically involved (at the start of this mess, anyway) with Ruby, who owns a saucy nightclub and has a kid brother who happens to enjoy both women and robbing banks. The latter gets him into trouble most of the time, but the former has it’s share of messiness too.

Elaine enters Bailey’s life and sets it on fire. She’s one of those female characters who, after the Production Code began to be enforced a few years later, would probably be run over with a horse drawn carriage. Her, though, she not only gets away with shoplifting, but gets away with Bailey’s heart.

However, Elaine is a little nuts. She takes Bailey to her home for a party that involves a hula dance. I’ve always seen the hula as something kind of goofy and kitsch (when preformed by non-Hawaiians, mind you) but the way Elaine reacts here is like she’s about ready to explode. She can’t even resist the urge to jump on stage and dance with the hula girl, laughing, wide eyed and merry.

Oh, these are the other characters, they all have names.

Elaine’s own strange sense of joie de vivre is probably the only reason I’d recommend checking this film out, as most of the other characters don’t really register as much else. The plot is fairly serviceable, but the climax, which involves a bomb hidden in an eight ball, falls completely flat.

Elaine, though, she’s a piece of work. I still can’t decide if the movie feels sorry for her in that last scene, or is completely repulsed by her. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s both.

7 Replies to “Blood Money (1933) Review”

  1. Agree that Frances Dee steals the show but George Bancroft and Judith Anderson (before she was a Dame) do just fine by me. Lucky enough to get a good DVD of this several years ago from a wonderful independent dealer in Irvine, Ca. HOT BLOOD was a favorite at one of our summer Pre-Code series features shown at the Friday Film Forum (1995-2012) in Long Beach, CA.

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