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Bureau of Missing Persons

(1933 b 73')

En: 5 Ed: 5

A paternalistic captain and a tough detective try to solve cases of missing persons.

The preface reports that 27,000 missing persons were reported in New York City in the previous year. Captain Webb (Lewis Stone) tells Butch Saunders (Pat O'Brien) he has been transfered for being too rough in making arrests in the robbery division. He needs to use his brains more. Butch breaks into a woman's apartment to find Kingman and arrests the woman; but at the station Webb makes him apologize to her. The captain helps Kingman return to his family without a scandal. When a boy violinist is reported missing, Butch follows kids stealing food and finds him hiding. The boy is tired of practicing and does not want to perform. After meeting his parents, Butch regrets having brought him in. Butch's wife Belle (Glenda Farrell) corners Butch and gets some support money from him. Captain Webb counsels a man how to communicate with his young wife, and he sends men in an airplane after homing pigeons that arrived with a ransom note.

Norma (Bette Davis) tells Butch her husband is gone, and he takes her to dinner. After a while he offers to pay her rent, and she kisses him goodnight. Then Webb tells Butch that Norma is wanted in Chicago for murdering her husband. Butch takes men to arrest her and finds her in a closet. He pretends he did not see her and returns later to find only a note. Her clothes are found on a dock. Butch asks Webb to let him use a corpse for a funeral, hoping she'll come. He grabs her at the funeral, and she explains how her husband killed his insane brother so that he could escape on embezzlement. Suddenly she sees him, and they chase him. The man (Alan Dinehart) says he is not Therme Roberts, and Butch finds that Norma is gone again. However, he takes him in and finds Norma with Webb. Webb asks Chicago to send a photo. Meanwhile another man says he has been married to Butch's wife Belle for two years, and he gives him a photo of her. Webb uses the photo to get Roberts to admit his identity. Norma is cleared but must testify in Chicago. Butch roughs up Belle in arresting her for her other husband, and then he and Norma go out together.

Many of the incidents in this comedy-drama were based on actual occurrences. The paternalistic Webb has a tendency to withhold information that he feels would be unpleasant for others to know. Butch's behavior doesn't seem to improve, but he does learn about his wife's game. Norma cleverly uses the Bureau of Missing Persons to catch her husband for the murder for which she had been falsely charged.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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