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Risky Business (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Crime | 3 March 1939 (USA)
Radio commentator Dan Clifford takes desperate chances to save the life of a young girl who has been kidnapped.


Arthur Lubin


William Anthony McGuire (story "Okay America"), Charles Grayson (screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
George Murphy ... Dan Clifford
Dorothea Kent ... Mary Dexter
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Philip Decarno
Leon Ames ... Hinge Jackson
El Brendel ... Axel
Richard Tucker ... District Attorney
Frances Robinson ... Norma Jameson
John Wray ... Silas
Arthur Loft ... Police Captain Wallace
Pierre Watkin ... Abernathy
Grant Richards ... Jack Norman
Charles Trowbridge ... Henry Jameson
Mary Forbes ... Mrs. Jameson


When Hollywood radio-commentator Dan Clifford (Murphy, George (I)) becomes the "go-between" in a kidnapping case to save the life of Norma Jameson (Robinson, Frances (I)).daughter of a movie financier, he scores a national news-scoop. But a double-cross by the kidnappers makes him a nation-wide laughing stock. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Crime


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

3 March 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Desafiando o Perigo See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Remake of Okay America! (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

George Murphy and Eduardo Ciannelli Shine in Overlooked 1939 Crime Drama
10 November 2014 | by OldFilmLoverSee all my reviews

Risky Business (1939) is a reasonably well-crafted crime fiction from Universal, directed by Arthur Lubin. It stars George Murphy and Dorothea Kent. Murphy, the only person in the cast who would qualify as a major star at the time (and even he wasn't all that major), is convincing as a radio journalist who, jaded by years of writing harsh film reviews, decides to make the rescue of a kidnapped heiress the cause of his career. He is aided by his secretary "Dexter" (Dorothea Kent) who loves him, though he himself feels only friendly camaraderie toward her. The main villains in the piece are Leon Ames and Eduardo Ciannelli. Ciannelli, in his few scenes, manages to steal the show. This would not be hard in a film populated exclusively by character actors (other than Murphy), but Ciannelli is malignantly villainous. After Murphy and perhaps Kent, he is the most impressive actor in the film.

Despite the lack of A-list stars, the film moves along quite nicely for its 67 minutes, carried by a decent plot, adequate dialogue, reasonably good performances by the supporting cast, and a strong performance by George Murphy. I see that it currently has a rating of 7.4 on IMDb; this, I think, is slightly higher than warranted for this "B" crime drama, but it definitely rates a 7, maybe even a 7.2.

I don't think the film has ever been available on VHS or DVD. Perhaps it occasionally shows up on late-night television. At least one ebay merchant has DVD-Rs of the film. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime dramas, not as a "must-see" (from the same year, a "must see" is The Roaring Twenties), but definitely as "worth seeing."

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