Jewel Robbery (1932): William Dieterle’s Pre-Code Mystery-Comedy, Starring William Powell and Kay Francis

William Dieterle directed Jewel Robbery a pre-Code comedy-mystery, starring William Powell and Kay Francis in one of their seven teaming together.

The script is based on the 1931 Hungarian play “Ékszerrablás a Váci-utcában,” by Ladislas Fodor and its English adaptation, “Jewel Robbery” by Bertram Bloch.

Franics plays Viennese Baroness Teri von Horhenfels, who relieves her boredom in marriage to rich but dull older husband (Henry Kolker) with love affairs.

She meets both her husband and a current lover, Paul (Hardie Albright), at an exclusive jewel shop, where the Baron is to buy her extravagant diamond ring.

Her tedium is lifted by the arrival of a suave jewel thief (William Powell) and his gang. In turn, he is entranced by her beauty and uninhibited, even cheeky, personality. He locks her husband and Paul, a young cabinet minister and former lover, in the vault, and forces shop owner Hollander (Lee Kohlmar) to smoke  marijuana. However, she persuades Powell to leave her free, but he first takes her ring.

In the end, it all turns to be a ruse. Fritz is a member of the gang. The thief had used the fake arrest to transport Teri to his house without protest for a night of romance.

Instead of plunging into love-making she insists on being wooed, and he shows her safes of jewels from previous heists.

When the real police arrive and storm the place, he ties Teri up to divert suspicion and flees. After she is rescued, she tells her husband and friends she needs a vacation away from Vienna  in Nice, to recover from all the excitement.

Screen Team: William Powell and Kay Francis

The pairing of William Powell and Kay Francis was the fifth of their 7 films. Powell, who had recently married Carole Lombard, did not want to do the film initially.

William Powell as The Robber
Kay Francis as Baroness Teri
Helen Vinson as Marianne
Hardie Albright as Paul
Alan Mowbray as Detective Fritz
Andre Luguet as Count Andre
Henry Kolker as Baron Franz
Spencer Charters as Lenz
Lee Kohlmar as Hollander
Clarence Wilson as Prefect of Police