Larry Evans (Richard Talmadge) is a motorcycle-driving police officer. He’s on the case and tracking down Connie Banning (Lois Wilde), the daughter of the man who runs the local oil refinery.
Connie has a bit of a history of legal trouble (especially when it comes to obeying traffic and auto safety laws), and Larry knows he’ll encounter a bit of a struggle in arresting her. When he arrives at her home and finds her in bed, he wraps her tightly in a blanket so she won’t be able to escape.
But when Connie’s father (Earle Dwire) arrives and sees what Larry has done, he complains and orders that the police chief put Larry on desk duty.
Larry’s not willing to take desk duty without a fight, though; he’s willing to quit to save himself from that terror! Struggling to find work, Larry reluctantly accepts a job with Connie’s father solving a series of heists targeted at the Banning company’s trucks.
Step On It is a forgotten crime “dramedy” released by Reliable Pictures Corporation, a short-lived studio that mostly produced low-budget Westerns between 1933 and 1937. The film was directed by Henri Samuels (aka Harry Webb, best known as the director and producer of films like 1934’s Terror of the Plains and as co-founder of RPC).
The film’s low budget is incredibly obvious. The plot pretty thin and predictable, and there is very little in the way of outstanding production values to speak of.
Most of the film’s performances are decent, and the actors are believable as “everyday people.” They don’t go over-the-top, but their performances don’t have the “oomph” that would be given by performers like Humphrey Bogart, for example.
As much as film loves to imitate life, in films of this type (essentially a light cop-vs.-dame comedy with hints of drama) I like it when performances have a bit of outlandish artifice to them for entertainment value — a cop that’s particularly sneaky or a society girl that’s much more outspokenly snide than she would be in the real world. When the story itself isn’t particularly outstanding and the film is of B-quality, this can save the whole thing from falling flat.
The one shining star here is Lois Wilde. Her character is a bit of a thrill-seeker, and Lois brings a lot of charm to the role. Sadly, Lois’ career was cut short when she sustained major injuries in a car accident. She only made 19 films according to IMDb, many of which were uncredited roles, but she shows so much promise as an actress here. Where other characters seem too “normal” for some of the semi-outlandish situations they find themselves in, Lois gives the story the burst of energetic life that it needs.
Step On It is a decent and quick (about 55 minutes) watch, particularly for fans of rare/forgotten films. Tune in once if you’re into this type of film, or for the performance of Lois Wilde. The score: 2.5/5