AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Dangerous to Know
Director: Robert Florey (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Mar 1938
Production Date:   late Nov--late Dec 1937
Duration (in mins):   70
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Anna May Wong (Madame Lan Ying)  
    Akim Tamiroff (Stephen Recka)  
    Gail Patrick (Margaret Van Kase)  
    Lloyd Nolan (Inspector Brandon)  
    Harvey Stephens (Philip Easton)  
    Anthony Quinn (Nicolai [Nicky] Kusnoff)  
    Roscoe Karns (Duncan)  
    Porter Hall (Mayor Bradley)  
    Barlowe Borland (Butler)  
    Hedda Hopper (Mrs. Carson)  
    Hugh Sothern (Harvey Greggson)  
    Edward Pawley (John Rance)  
    Eddie Marr (Crouch)  
    Harry Worth (Hanley)  
    Robert Brister (Councilman Murkil)  
    Pierre Watkin (Senator Carson)  
    Garry Owen (Mike Tookey)  
    Donald Brian (Judge Parker)  
    Stanley Blystone (Motorcycle cop)  
    Terry Ray (Secretary)  
    Rita La Roy (Mrs. Barnett)  
    Harvey Clark (Mr. Barnett)  
    Jack Knoche (Messenger)  
    Gino Corrado (Headwaiter)  
    George Melford (Councilman at party)  
    Rudolph Myzet (Musician at party)  
    Andre P. Marsaudon (Second butler)  
    Perry Ivins (Pompous man)  
    Margaret Randall (Phone girl)  
    Wade Boteler (Old time uniformed policeman)  
    Ivan Miller (Policeman)  
    Frank Melton (Man at racetrack)  
    Grace Benham (Guest at party)  
    Lynn Bailey (Guest at party)  
    Larry Steers (Guest at party)  
    Estelle Etterre (Guest at party)  
    Harry Myers (Guest at party)  
    David Newell (Guest at party)  
    Cyril Ring (Guest at party)  
    Sheila Darcy (Guest at party)  
    Blanca Vischer (Guest at party)  
    John Hart    
    Joyce Mathews    
    Carol Parker    
    Ruth Rogers    
    Suzanne Ridgway    

Summary: At City Hall, Nicolai "Nicky" Kusnoff, gangster Stephen Recka's henchman, overhears city councilman Murkil plotting with John Rance to take over the mayor's office. Madame Lan Ying, Recka's mistress, hosts a birthday party for him, which is attended by those who want a share in his city-wide power. Recka becomes interested in socialite Margaret Van Kase when she attends the party without an invitation. That evening, Recka coldly murders Rance after forcing him to write a suicide note. City inspector Brandon believes Recka is responsible for eight deaths, but has no evidence to convict him. Brandon and Recka share the same birthday, and for the seventh year in a row, Brandon refuses Recka's birthday "gift," a bribe. At the racetrack, Nicky reports to Recka on Margaret's fiancĂ©, a handsome bond salesman named Philip Easton. Recka, who models himself after Napoleon Bonaparte, buys a large amount of bonds from Phil, then attends a society dinner with Margaret. Nicky impetuously reveals to Lan Ying that Recka plans to wed Margaret, after which Lan Ying warns Recka that trying to enter society is reaching beyond his grasp. Recka arranges with Crouch and Hanley to rob Phil's bonds in a manner that makes Phil appear an accessory to the crime. When Margaret calls on Recka, he promises to have Phil freed if she will marry him. Crouch and Hanley double-cross Recka, however, and keep the bonds, then are caught speeding by the police. After Lan Ying gives Phil airplane tickets that Recka had bought for a flight with Margaret, Brandon arrests Nicky to keep him from murdering Phil. Lan Ying refuses a large check offered by Recka and warns him that she will not be waiting if he returns, playing a record of "Thanks for the Memory" as a farewell. Although still determined to marry Margaret, Recka is nonetheless confused and lonely and plays a Tchaikovsky piece on his pipe organ. Behind him Lan Ying commits suicide with a knife, and just as Recka realizes something unexpected has happened, Brandon enters and arrests him. Brandon intends that Recka be convicted as the murderer of Lan Ying and thus pay for any other crimes for which he was never tried. Nicky foolishly imagines himself as Recka's successor, while Phil and Margaret fly to their honeymoon. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Robert Florey (Dir)
  Stanley Goldsmith (Asst dir)
Producer: Adolph Zukor (Pres)
  Edward T. Lowe (Prod)
  William LeBaron (Exec prod)
Writer: William R. Lipman (Scr)
  Horace McCoy (Scr)
Photography: Theodor Sparkuhl (Photog)
  Karl Struss (Photog)
  Charles Schoenbaum (Photog)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  John Goodman (Art dir)
Film Editor: Arthur Schmidt (Ed)
Set Decoration: A. E. Freudeman (Int dec)
Costumes: Edith Head (Cost)
Music: Boris Morros (Mus dir)
Sound: Harry Lindgren (Sd rec)
  Richard Olson (Sd rec)
Country: United States

Music: Selections from the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Source Text: Based on the play On the Spot by Edgar Wallace (London, 2 Apr 1930).
Authors: Edgar Wallace

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 11/3/1938 dd/mm/yyyy LP7875 Yes

PCA NO: 3989
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Genre: Melodrama
Sub-Genre: Gangster
Subjects (Major): Ambition
  Chinese Americans
  Class distinction
Subjects (Minor): Abduction
  Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821
  Romantic rivalry

Note: Edgar Wallace's play opened in New York on 29 Oct 1930 and was published as a novel in 1932. According to Wallace biographers, the play was written in four days and was based on the career of Al Capone. Anna May Wong reprised her stage role from the New York production in the movie. Passages from symphonies by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, played by "Recka" during numerous scenes, were blended into the musical score. Early HR production charts list Charles Schoenbaum as photographer. According to contemporary sources, Wong capitalized on the success of the film when she toured on behalf of Chinese war relief. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   24 Feb 38   p. 3.
Film Daily   14 Mar 1938.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Nov 37   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Dec 37   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Feb 38   p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily   2 Mar 38   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald   29 Jan 38   p. 39.
Motion Picture Herald   5 Mar 38   p. 40.
Motion Picture Review   26 Feb 1938.   
New York Times   11 Mar 38   p. 15.
Variety   16 Mar 38   p. 15.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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