Girl Missing (1933)

Young and lovely June Dale (Mary Brian) is being pursued by the wealthy but far-too-pushy Kenneth Van Dusen (Guy Kibbee). When June’s friend Kay (Glenda Farrell) walks in and puts a stop to Kenneth’s attempts to woo June, he leaves them at their fancy Palm Beach hotel, sticking them with the bill.

(Image via Monster Crazy)

(Image via Monster Crazy)

Luckily for Kay and June, their old showgirl “pal” Daisy Bradford (Peggy Shannon) — a not-quite-friend they call “Dumb Daisy” — has just announced her engagement to Henry Gibson (Ben Lyon), a millionaire. They decide to ask Daisy for the money they need, but she pretends she doesn’t know them. They’re instead helped by her ex-boyfriend, Raymond (Lyle Talbot), but they can’t catch a train out of town right away.

Daisy, meanwhile, marries and heads off on her honeymoon… but it isn’t a fun one. Soon after arriving at her hotel, she goes missing, and a racketeer named Jim Hendricks (Harold Huber) is found murdered in the hotel garden.

Henry puts up a big reward in return for information about his disappeared bride, and Kay decides she wants the dough, so she and June put their gumshoes on and get to investigating!

Girl Missing comes from an original story and adaptation by Carl Erickson and Don Mullaly, with dialogue by Ben Markson. The film was directed by Robert Florey.

Girl Missing is a light, never-too-suspenseful picture that focuses much more on its tale of two down-on-their-luck friends than it does on the mystery at hand, particularly the mystery of who killed Jim. Kay and June’s investigative efforts are simply another attempt to get themselves some dough, after what seem to be several failed attempts at reeling in millionaire beaus.

The film’s characters are fast-talking, including the very charismatic Glenda Farrell, who emerges as the star of the film despite the amount of talent that fills the ensemble cast. I also love the scheming team of Farrell and Mary Brian — a spunky duo who have their differences but are good friends, and always have each other’s backs. Farrell, of course, is the much more outspoken of the two women, delivering many a zinger in her dialogue throughout the film.

“All gold diggers are the same… that is, all except myself.” -Kay

(Image via Movie Morlocks)

(Image via Movie Morlocks)

The “girl missing” of the film’s title doesn’t actually go missing until the film is over a third of the way to the finish line, and the film does suffer a bit for this. Had the mystery picked up just a tad earlier, perhaps the film would have been more atmospheric, more suspenseful. The film doesn’t flop due to the lack of suspense, though, since the comedic half of this mystery-comedy is still buckets of fun to watch (thanks in large part to Farrell).

There’s strong potential for a very twisty whodunit, and that opportunity is missed, the film instead offering a predictable but highly enjoyable tale of two women getting to the bottom of their old acquaintance’s disappearance. A must-watch for Glenda Farrell fans, and recommended to anyone who loves pre-codes or mystery-comedy, too.

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