Tell No Tales (1939): Fenton’s B-Crimer, Starring Melvyn Douglas and Louise Platt

Leslie Fenton made a feture directing debut with Tell No Tales, a modest B-level crimer written by Lionel Houser, and starring Melvyn Douglas, Louise Platt, and Gene Lockhart.

Michael Cassidy, who runs the Evening Guardian newspaper, gets a telegram from publisher Matt Cooper on its 75th birthday, informing him that he is shutting it down.

Cooper also owns The Record, a more lurid, scandal-filled paper, and he bought The Guardian in order to get rid of the competition. Cooper offers him any job on The Record, but abhors the paper, which recently treatmed poorly schoolteacher Ellen Frazier, a witness in a kidnapping case.

When Cassidy pays his bar tab, the bartender notices his bill is part of kidnapping ransom money–the first clue in the case. Cassidy got the bill when the bartender cashed his the night before. The bartender recalls getting it from jewelry store proprietor Charlie Daggett.

Cassidy goes to Cooper and begs him to keep publishing The Guardian, offering him a popular story, but Cooper refuses.

Cassidy, determined to track down the kidnappers, sneaks in to see Ellen Frazier. Posing as a lawyer, he persuades her to leave with him and identify the crooks.

The $100 bill came from Mrs. Lovelake, whose husband doctor recalls receiving the bill from a patient, black boxer James Alley.

Cassidy convinces Lovelake to go to Bryant at the newspaper, but she is abducted at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Cassidy goes to see Alley, but finds himself at his wake; he was run over by a car.

His widow Ruby admits she got the money from a friend of singer Lorna Travers, but does not know his name. Posing as a treasury agent, Cassidy gets the name from Travers. It’s Cooper who got the $100 for his winnings at Arno’s gambling house.

Arno points Cassidy to gangsters as the source of the bill, but warns them in advance, and Cassidy is captured. Arno, who had laundered money for the criminals, feels guilty and helps Cassidy and Ellen escape, risking his own life. Cassidy breaks the story, and Cooper decides not to close The Guardian.

In the sma eyear, Douglas and Platt made more significant movies, the former appeared in Ninotchka, opposite Garbo, and the latter in John Ford’s seminal Western, Stagecoach.

Running time: 69 minutes.

Release date: May 12, 1939.

Melvyn Douglas as Michael Cassidy
Louise Platt as Ellen Frazier
Gene Lockhart as Arno
Douglass Dumbrille as Matt Cooper
Florence George as Lorna Travers
Halliwell Hobbes as Doctor Lovelake
Zeffie Tilbury as Miss Mary
Harlan Briggs as Davie Bryant