X Marks The Spot (1931)

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Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque

X Marks The Spot (1931)

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Director: Erle C Kenton

Cast: Lew Cody, Sally Blane, Wallace Ford, Mary Nolan, Fred Kohler, Charles Middleton, Virginial Lee Corbin, Joyce Coad, Richard Tucker, Hank Mann, Helen Parrish

72 minutes

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X Marks the Spot is a 1931 American pre-Code crime drama film, directed by Erle C. Kenton and released by Tiffany Pictures, which operated from 1921 to 1932.

The story concerns a newspaper reporter indebted to a gangster for raising the money to save his little girl’s life. The source material was remade into a 1942 film of the same name. Helen Parrish appeared in both versions.


Ted Lloyd, a reporter for a small-town newspaper, follows an ambulance to the scene of an accident where he discovers that his young sister Gloria is the victim. Gloria’s doctor tells Ted that if she is ever to walk again, Ted must find the money to send her to Germany for an operation.

Ted asks all his friends, including his editor George Howard, for help, but although they are sympathetic, none has the necessary money. Desperately, Ted approaches Riggs, a local gangster. At first, Riggs flatly refuses to make the loan. Ted then offers to exchange secret information about the District Attorney for the money. Riggs angrily denounces Ted as an informer, then unexpectedly decides to give him the money for the operation. Ted promises never to forget Riggs’ kindness.

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Eight years later, George has become the editor of the New York Gazette and Ted works as the Broadway gossip columnist. When Ted writes an item about showgirl Vivyan Parker, implying that she is being kept by a wealthy man, she sues the paper for libel. Eager to avoid the suit, George sends Ted to Vivyan’s apartment to obtain a release. Ted sneaks into her apartment with the help of the doorman, but Vivyan refuses to sign the release and orders him out of her apartment. When she is later found murdered, Ted is the primary suspect.

In order to clear his name, Ted, who believes that robbery was the motive for Vivyan’s murder, obtains a list of her jewelry from her lover, E. T. Barnes. He contacts several fences and, with the help of one of them, discovers that the murderer is Riggs. Remembering that Riggs once did him a favor, Ted does not reveal his name, but George, suspecting that Ted knows who committed the murder, follows him to his meeting with Riggs and Riggs is arrested.

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Believing that Ted betrayed him, Riggs swears vengeance. During the trial, one of Riggs’ cronies tapes a gun beneath the table where Riggs waits for sentencing. When a guilty verdict is returned, Riggs uses the gun to shoot a guard and abduct one of the jurors. Riggs holds the man hostage, insisting that he will release him in exchange for Ted. Ted agrees, entering the room where Riggs waits at the same time the police release a smoke bomb. In the following gun battle, Riggs is killed and Ted is wounded. While Ted is in the hospital, George takes over his column. His final effort announces Ted’s engagement to his secretary, Sue.

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Film Collectors Corner

Watch X Marks the Spot Now – Instant Video on You Tube

Blu Ray

Not released on Blu Ray



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