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Tell No Tales (1939)

Passed | | Crime, Mystery, Drama | 12 May 1939 (USA)
Michael Cassidy is the editor of a failing newspaper. A scoop would be welcome to boost the sales and to avoid closure. To this end, he decides to personally track down a gang of kidnappers.


Leslie Fenton


Lionel Houser (screenplay), Pauline London (based on a story by) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Melvyn Douglas ... Michael Cassidy
Louise Platt ... Ellen Frazier
Gene Lockhart ... Arno
Douglass Dumbrille ... Matt Cooper (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Florence George ... Lorna Travers
Halliwell Hobbes ... Dr. Lovelake
Zeffie Tilbury ... Miss Mary
Harlan Briggs ... Davie Bryant
Sara Haden ... Miss Brendon
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Charlie Daggett (as Hobart Cavanagh)
Oscar O'Shea ... Sam O'Neil
Theresa Harris ... Ruby
Jean Fenwick ... Mrs. Lovelake
Esther Dale ... Mrs. Haskins
Joseph Crehan ... Chalmers


Michael Cassidy is the managing-editor of a small newspaper which is about to be closed down by its new owner, Matthew Cooper, who owns another newspaper in the city and only bought the second one to get rid of the competition. There has been a kidnapping in the city and Cassidy gets one of the hundred-dollar-bills, paid in ransom, at a saloon and begins to trace the bill backwards step-by-step to get to the kidnappers. He is aided by Ellen Frazier, a schoolteacher, who is the only eye-witness. Each step leads to a miniature drama of it own to...to the widow, Ruby Alley, at the wake of her dead prizefighter-husband...to the owner of a gambling house, Arno, who discovers that his brother, the cashier of the casino, is involved in the kidnapping...to a husband who is not thrilled to learn his wife ahas been cheating on him...before he finds the kidnappers. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

newspaper | widow | wake | ransom | gang | See All (61) »


Crime | Mystery | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Hundred to One See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's initial television broadcast in Los Angeles took place Tuesday 25 December 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by Philadelphia 21 July 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), by San Francisco 1 January 1959 on KGO (Channel 7), and, finally by New York City 24 September 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


Charlie Daggett: [to prospective mother-in-law] Okay, that suits me fine, just fine. Stupid little nincompoop, eh? Well that suits me fine. I'm tired of you shoving me around, you sour-pussed old battleaxe!
[turns to fiancee]
Charlie Daggett: Yes, and you, too!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening card: This exhibit commemorates the 75th year of the publishing of the Evening Guardian. See more »

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User Reviews

Melvyn Douglas and MGM get a bit more out the genre than usual...
9 February 2018 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In the 1930s and 40s, Hollywood made tons of mystery films in which private citizens outwit the cops and solve crimes...usually murders. There is a certain sameness to the plots and at least "Tell No Tales" offers a few changes to this formula...the best of which is having it star Melvyn Douglas--a marvelous and versatile who is one of my favorites.

When the story begins, a newspaper is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Unfortunately, just after the festivities begin, the editor, Michael Cassidy (Douglas) learns from the paper's new owner that he's shutting it down....selling it because he never really wanted to own the business, just make a buck splitting it apart!

Naturally Michael is in a funk and he ends up in a local bar. Instead of getting wasted, however, he stumbles upon something which MIGHT help him keep the paper going. One of the bills the bartender had given him turned out to be from a ransom! So, Michael decides to investigate it on his own instead of just passing on this information to the police.

As usual, Douglas turns in a nice and apparently effortless performance. I appreciate how his newspaper editor character differs from the abrasive characters usually played by Lee Tracy (he played newspaper men A LOT).

Unlike most murder mystery B-movies, this one is from MGM...a big studio. While the big studios did make Bs, when it came to murder mysteries, the smaller studios glutted the market....and too many of these films from Monogram, Republic and PRC are inferior in most ways. Here, however, the writing is nice, as is the music, supporting characters...heck, everything is quite polished and nice here. Well worth seeing, though clearly one of Douglas' lesser films.

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