Cast & Crew
Radio repairman Tommy Jordan is blindfolded by two mugs and taken to the hideout of Kayo McClure, a champion boxer with gang connections. While fixing Kayo's radio plug, Tommy is accosted by Baby Face, Kayo's love-hungry girl friend, and is forced to hide under Baby's bed when the jealous Kayo returns home. Trapped in Baby's bedroom, Tommy overhears Kayo arguing with gangster Nick Vatelli in the living room. Supported by several of his gang, Nick tries to coerce Kayo to join his payroll until Tommy, using a new radio microphone device, tricks the intruders into believing that Kayo's bodyguards are standing with guns in the next room. Grateful for Tommy's unexpected help, the inarticulate but friendly Kayo offers the repairman a ticket to a charity ball. There, while dodging the persistent Baby Face, Tommy dances with Edna Moreno, unaware that she is Nick's reluctant girl friend. When a still ignorant Tommy cuts in while Nick is dancing with Edna, Nick, who has since learned of Tommy's radio ruse, orders his rival shot under a spotlight. With help from Kayo's friends, Tommy and Edna escape Nick's bullets and flee to the boxer's hideout. Against the wishes of Baby Face, Kayo allows the couple to spend the night, and in the morning, Tommy and Edna declare their love for each other. When Edna overhears a still furious Baby Face refer to her as a tramp, however, she slips out of the apartment while Tommy is at work. Devastated by Edna's unexplained departure, Tommy hires a private detective to find her. Although happy to see Tommy again, Edna agrees to marry Nick to protect Tommy from harm. Tommy, however, finds out from Kayo, who has just married Baby Face, where the wedding is to take place and rushes to stop the ceremony. Just before the wedding is to start, Tommy locates Edna and convinces her to run away with him, but is stopped at gunpoint by Nick and his men. At that moment, Kayo, armed and angry, bursts into the room and confronts Nick. After a fight and chase, Edna is freed and Nick is shot by police. Although wounded in the fight, Tommy recovers in time to participate in his own wedding rehearsal.
Harry Joe Brown
Ralph F. Murphy
Charles R. Rogers
George Kibbe Turner
Rogers had started her film career in New York City, making most of her early films there while also appearing on Broadway, most notably as the leading lady in George Gershwin's Girl Crazy. While introducing such standards as "Embraceable You" and "But Not For Me" in that show by night, she was making films by day at Paramount's Astoria studios. Worn out by the schedule, she asked for a contract release, which studio head Jesse Lasky reluctantly gave her. At the time, he prophetically stated, "I'm afraid the day will come when I shall regret this." (Lasky quoted in Homer Dickens, The Films of Ginger Rogers)
None of Rogers' early films, however, would have given him any cause for regret. When Girl Crazy finished its run, she accepted a contract from Pathé, a subsidiary of RKO, that required her to relocate to Hollywood. For her first assignment, studio head Charles R. Rogers put her into an action film, a studio staple, teaming comic actor Eddie Quillan with he-man character star Robert Armstrong. As Armstrong's girlfriend, Rogers would get to drop wisecracks at key moments while also proving that, when necessary, she could keep the big lug in line. But the film's real focus was on the relationship between its male stars, which capitalized on the popularity of buddy films like What Price, Glory? (1926) and its sequels.
Producer Rogers took leading lady Rogers to lunch before production started to help prepare her for Hollywood filmmaking. He also introduced her to the various studio personnel who would be working on the film. But he didn't prepare her for her first day in hairdressing. When Rogers arrived to have her hair done, the hairdresser handed her a pile of magazines to read, then went to work. Before long, the young actress felt a burning sensation in her scalp, then discovered that the boss had decided to make her a blonde without consulting her.
Rogers immediately called her mother, who threatened to sue. After all, her daughter had done perfectly well on Broadway and in early films as a brunette. How dare they change her look without permission! The fight with the studio went on for days. They even consulted an old friend, actor Herbert Rawlinson, who had worked with Rogers in vaudeville. But as the discussions continued, Rogers realized that the new color was actually rather flattering. When Rawlinson finally calmed her mother by suggesting it was probably an innocent mistake, that they had just forgotten to consult her, Rogers took the opportunity to insert, "Mother, I like this color on me, and I want to keep it." Her mother replied, "Frankly, baby, I'm beginning to like it myself." (Ginger and Leela Rogers, quoted in Ginger Rogers, Ginger: My Story)
The energy Rogers and her mother spent worrying about her hair color, might have been better spent re-thinking their place at Pathé. Her routine assignment in The Tip-Off was hardly a star-making role. Nor was her performance as a dime-store dolly named Baby Face much threat to such established stars as the patrician Ann Harding or the ultra-glamorous Constance Bennett. The New York Times spent most of its review on the film's male stars, but at least credited Rogers with being "a clever foil" to them. Other reviews didn't even get her role right, erroneously describing her as a gangster's moll.
The Tip-Off did very little for the young actress' position in Hollywood. In fact, after only one more film, Pathé would drop her contract. It would take free-lance work in the first Busby Berkeley musicals, 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 (both 1933) to convince RKO's new head, Merian C. Cooper (by that time Pathé had been totally absorbed into RKO). Within a few years, she would be one of the studio's biggest female stars.
Producer: Charles R. Rogers
Director: Albert S. Rogell
Screenplay: Earl Baldwin
Based on a story by George Kibbe Turner
Cinematography: Edward Snyder
Art Direction: Carroll Clark
Music: Arthur Lange
Principal Cast: Eddie Quillan (Thomas 'Tommy' Jordan), Robert Armstrong (Kayo McClure), Ginger Rogers (Baby Face), Joan Peers (Edna Moreno), Ralf Harolde (Nick Vatelli), Mike Donlin (Swanky Jones), Luis Alberni (Scarno), John Quillan (Scared Man at Scarno's).
by Frank Miller
The working titles of this film were Eddie Cuts In and Trouble. A production news item in Film Daily announced that Eddie Quillan's brother, John Quillan, was to appear in this film. His participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Frank Darien (Uncle), Dorothy Granger (Hat check girl), Harry Wilson (Hood) and Charles Sullivan (Chuck, bouncer) to the cast.