Cast & Crew
Frank M. Thomas
After gangster Phil Crowley robs a mail truck and murders its driver, postal secretary Doris Martin and postal inspector Tom Mallory are called on to track down the elusive fugitive. Disguised as a postal clerk, Doris intercepts a letter addressed to a "Jane Turner," general delivery in Los Angeles, which has been sent by Crowley's gang from their hotel hideout. Aware that it contains $10,000 in stolen cash, Tom and Doris follow the letter to Los Angeles and, with help from Banks, a local post office clerk, spot Jane Turner as she collects her mail. Doris follows Jane to her apartment, rents a neighboring apartment, then plants electronic listening devices in Jane's living room. Jane, meanwhile, offers the stolen cash not to Crowley, but to her husband Jerry's boss, from whom she believes Jerry has embezzled company funds. While helping out a penniless old man at the post office, Tom then is surprised by the appearance of another woman who identifies herself as Jane Turner. Tom alerts the postal authorities, and the second Jane Turner, whose real name is Marge Saunders, is soon apprehended with her double-crossing accomplices. By threatening to charge Eddie Parsons, Marge's boyfriend, with the robbery-murder, Tom forces Marge to reveal the gangsers' code names for both Eddie and Crowley. Tom then places a coded notice in the local newspapers' classified section, which alerts Crowley to contact Jane Turner at the apartment building where Doris has made her stake out. Through her bugging device, Doris, however, discovers that Jane picked up the money by accident and has no connection with Crowley. Concerned about the Turners' safety, Doris argues with Tom about the ethics of using them as a trap for Crowley. Before this ethical question is tested, Tom learns from his fellow investigators that, in the heat of interrogation, Eddie revealed Crowley's whereabouts to the authorities. At Crowley's hideout, Tom is involved in a shootout with one of Crowley's men, then discovers that the fugitive has already left for Jane's apartment. While Tom rushes to the scene, Doris confesses her identity to Jane and exchanges places with her in the apartment. Crowley sneaks into Jane's apartment and, assuming Doris to be Jane, demands the cash at gunpoint. Cornered, Doris uses her listening devices to alert Tom of Crowley's presence and, as Tom bursts into the apartment, shoots the surprised gangster. His mission completed, Tom proposes to Doris, who after a fight, accepts.
Frank M. Thomas
Samuel J. Briskin
Robert De Grasse
Edmund L. Hartmann
Van Nest Polglase
John E. Tribby
Wanted: Jane Turner
Often overlooked is another entry from 1936, Wanted! Jane Turner, a modest RKO Radio Pictures production originally produced under the title General Delivery and also announced before its release as Federal Offense. Lee Tracy, the troublemaking, redheaded star of films like Dinner at Eight and Bombshell (both 1933), stars as Tom Mallory, who teams up with fellow postal inspector Doris Martin (Gloria Stuart) to track down some mail robbers sending illicit cash across the country. The Jane Turner of the title is the recipient of a pivotal money-stuffed delivery, which leads our heroes on a chase through the various shady mail-related side business of the United States.
Laced with more humor than usual for a genre title, the film was Lee Tracy's second 1936 release following the western Sutter's Gold. The actor was in a career slump at the time due to fallout from his misbehavior in Mexico during the production of Viva Villa! (1934), after which major studios ceased casting him in leading roles. He continued to find steady work, however, and would continue acting well into the 1960s when he transitioned to television.
Though the enforced romance between the leads appears to be a tacked-on imposition to please audiences, Tracy's female lead is significant in her own right. Gloria Stuart had made a name appearing in numerous Universal productions, most notably the horror classics The Old Dark House (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933), and the year of this film's release saw her appearing in no less than five other movies including Poor Little Rich Girl, 36 Hours to Kill, and The Girl on the Front Page. A Santa Monica native, she left screen acting in the mid-1940s for other pursuits including stage appearances, a furniture shop, and oil painting. Following her husband's death, she returned to acting in the mid-1970s. However, her main claim to pop culture immortality came when director James Cameron listened to her audio commentary for The Old Dark House and decided she would be perfect to play the elderly Rose in Titanic (1997), a role that earned her an Oscar nomination. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 100, leaving a vast legacy behind.
When it opened in the final weeks on 1936, Wanted! Jane Turner (whose title sometimes substitutes a colon for the exclamation point) was more warmly received by critics than usual. Variety found it was "nicely mounted and contains some excellent dialog, which is directly responsible for heavy chuckles," while The Hollywood Reporter deemed it "above most of the stuff turned out for the dual program trade." Since then it has become a television mainstay, offering an exciting, witty, and even glamorous take on a profession far more dangerous than most people ever imagined.
By Nathaniel Thompson
Wanted: Jane Turner
The working titles of this film were General Delivery and Federal Offense. According to New York Times review, the film was inspired by real-life criminals "Ice-Wagon" Crowley and "Killer" Cunniffe, who in 1926 held up a Elizabeth, New Jersey mail truck and killed the truck's driver. RKO borrowed Gloria Stuart from Fox for this production. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Alan Carter to the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Although studio production files list Ann Preston in the role of "Jane Turner," screen credits and major reviews list Judith Blake in the part. It is not known if Preston appeared in the picture as another character, or if Ann Preston was Judith Blake's previous stage name.