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Dangerous Females (1929)

Roommates panic and plan when they hear a radio report of a murderer loose in their neighborhood.


William Watson


Florence Ryerson (scenario), Colin Clements (scenario)


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Cast overview:
Marie Dressler ... Sarah Bascom
Polly Moran ... Tibby Cram
Frank Rice ... The Man
Arthur Millett Arthur Millett
Tom Dempsey Tom Dempsey


Roommates panic and plan when they hear a radio report of a murderer loose in their neighborhood.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Ferocious Females on the Trail (Print Ad- Grape Belt and Chautauqua Farmer, ((Dunkirk, NY)) 24 December 1929)


Comedy | Short







Release Date:

16 November 1929 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Christie Film Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


Talkie debuts for both Marie Dressler and Polly Moran. See more »

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User Reviews

Two aging matrons confront a mysterious stranger
20 January 2008 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

Leonard Maltin's book "The Great Movie Comedians" has a nice section on Marie Dressler, complete with filmography and interesting photos, but I must take exception to the way he characterized this early talkie short, Dangerous Females. Maltin mentions the film only in passing, asserting that Dressler and her co-star Polly Moran "did their best to contend with a microphone and very weak material." That's all he wrote about it, and based on that brisk dismissal you'd expect the film to be a total dog, best ignored. While I wouldn't suggest that this modest two-reeler is a must-see classic, after viewing it a couple of times I have to say I find it diverting and at times quite funny. This is mostly due to the performances of the lead players, but the material they have to work with isn't so bad; like a lot of early talkies this one is carried almost entirely by the dialog, giving it the feel of a stage one-act or even a radio play, and although the writing isn't brilliant the central situation is amusing, and even somewhat suspenseful towards the climax.

Under the opening credits we hear Marie and Polly's off-key rendition of "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," already an oldie in 1929. Two aging ladies, Sarah Bascom (Dressler) and Tibby Cram (Moran), share a cottage in a small village. We quickly get a sense of their personalities through their reactions to a lurid murder mystery on the radio: Tibby finds it distasteful, but Sarah enjoys it thoroughly. When the show is over Sarah says she's bored, and adds that if nothing exciting happens soon she's going to run wild with a carving knife. This proves unnecessary, for they soon learn from a news bulletin that an escaped criminal known as The Wolf is in the vicinity. Tibby is frightened, but Sarah is thrilled. Meanwhile, they're also expecting a visit from the village's new minister, whom they've never seen, so when a seemingly pious gentleman (Frank Rice) shows up at their door his true identity is in question. Tibby assumes he's the minister, but Sarah jumps to the conclusion he's The Wolf in disguise, and decides to incapacitate him by getting him drunk on peach brandy. Only in the final scene do we learn the identity of the ladies' visitor.

That's the premise, and maybe it isn't Shakespeare, but it's good enough for a decent comedy short! You might say it's a win-win situation, funny no matter what the resolution of the plot turns out to be: either Sarah has accidentally gotten the new minister plastered or she's caught an escaped criminal almost in spite of herself. Marie Dressler works wonders with her dialog, reactions, and occasional bits of physical comedy, such as her all-too-brief, wild dance to hot jazz on the radio (a quick throwback to the uninhibited dancing of her 1914 screen debut Tillie's Punctured Romance). Her attempts to flirt with the visitor—after surreptitiously bolstering her cleavage, then baring her shoulder and rolling it like a crazed Clara Bow impersonator—demonstrate that as a comedienne Dressler was fearless, unafraid to look foolish or to use her appearance for laughs. Polly Moran is basically the straight-woman here, but she manages to impart some understated eccentric touches to her fearful, prissy character. Frank Rice, identified only as "The Man" in the credits, plays off Dressler quite well, and is amusing in his drunk scene.

I don't know why Mr. Maltin was so dismissive of this film. It's a pleasant little situation comedy that showcases Marie Dressler's skills to good advantage. Let's put it this way: if you're determined to watch a talkie comedy short from 1929, you could do a lot worse than Dangerous Females.

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