Public Menace, The (1935): Romantic Adventure, Starring Jean Arthur, George Murphy, Douglass Dumbrille (Journalism)

The Public Menace is a minor romantic adventure, starring Jean Arthur (before she became a star), George Murphy and Douglass Dumbrille.


A newspaper reporter keeps losing and regaining his job due to a manicurist he wishes to marry.

“Red” Foster (George Murphy) and reporters board an ocean liner arriving from Europ to cover a seemingly routine suicide. Cassie (Jean Arthur), the ship’s manicurist, is homesick, but has somehow become a Greek citizen.

The captain (Thurston Hall) becomes aware of her plan to jump ship, informing her she will be watched. She holds a suicide note that reveals that man held by the police for a sensational murder is innocent and names the true killer. However, she will only give it to him if he marries her and makes her an American citizen again. He reluctantly agrees, but afterward, he learns she has lied; the note is a letter of recommendation.

Meanwhile, the other reporters learn that notorious gangster Tonelli (Douglass Dumbrille) is being brought back to the US to face charges. When they locate his cabin, they barge in on him and his police escorts. They are then forced at gunpoint by Tonelli’s henchman to help in his escape.

In the midst of chases and gunfights, Frentrup once again rehires Red to write the unfolding story.

In the end, set at the divorce court, Red decides to stay married to Cassie.

Jean Arthur as Cassie Nicholls
George Murphy as Edward “Red” Foster
Douglass Dumbrille as Tonelli
George McKay as Dildy
Robert Middlemass as Frentrup


Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Written by Ethel Hill, Lionel Houser
Cinematography Henry Freulich
Edited by Gene Milford
Production, distribution: Columbia Pictures
Release date: September 24, 1935
Running time 72 minutes