SUCKER MONEY (1933)
Article 1874 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-2-2006
Posting Date: 9-29-2006
Directed by Dorothy Davenport and Melville Shyer
Featuring Mischa Auer, Phyllis Barrington, Earl McCarthy
A reporter (who used to be an actor) is assigned to answer an ad that the editor thinks will turn out to be a great human interest story. The job turns out to involve impersonating people for a phony spiritualist.
The movie claims to be an expose of the spiritualistic racket, and despite the fact that the movie would have you believe you’re watching the reenactment of a true story, the fact that the mystic can hypnotize people to make him do their bidding gives it away as a piece of fiction. Still, this is a potentially interesting story, but the direction and camerawork is so painfully creaky that it becomes sleep-inducing. It doesn’t help that the reporter is discovered far too early in the proceedings and has to spend the second half of the movie as a hostage, thus taking the character we’ve been following most closely out of the action. A plethora of seance scenes and the acting of Mischa Auer offer a few attractions, but only Mae Busch’s character as an alcoholic assistant to the swami is strong enough to hold your attention through the creakiness. This is not one of the better forgotten horrors out there.