skip navigation
The Nuisance

The Nuisance(1933)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)

DVDs from TCM Shop

The Nuisance Love trips up an ambulance... MORE > $16.95 Regularly $17.99 Buy Now


powered by AFI

DVDs from TCM Shop

The Nuisance Love trips up an ambulance... MORE > $16.95
Regularly $17.99
buy now

Joe Phineas Stevens is an ambulance-chasing lawyer who, with the help of Dr. Buchanan Prescott, an alcoholic quack, "Floppy" Phil Montague, a "professional" accident victim, and a crew of for-hire eye witnesses, specializes in defrauding his local streetcar company. After a series of particularly embarrassing and costly victories against them, Kelley and John Calhoun, lawyers for the streetcar company, plot to destroy Joe by playing as dirty as he. Subsequently, Joe is called to the scene of a streetcar collision where he meets attractive Dorothy Mason, an apparent accident victim, to whom he extends his services. Although at first cool and elusive toward Joe, Dorothy invites him to her apartment one day, and he eagerly accepts, unaware that she has been hired by Kelley and Calhoun to trap him. While Joe talks about faking spinal and vision injuries, Dorothy tapes his remarks on a hidden recorder. After Dorothy is examined thoroughly by three of the streetcar company's physicians, who pronounce her fit, Prescott takes X-rays of her spine and promises her that he will have no trouble altering them to show a certain injury. Apprised of his methods, Dorothy finds out which speakeasy Prescott frequents and notifies Kelley and Calhoun of his whereabouts. While the lawyers chat with Prescott and pretend that they want to learn the accident "racket," Dorothy takes Joe to a roller skating rink, where she has arranged for a photographer to shoot them skating. Instead, the cameraman takes a photograph of another one of Joe's dubious clients, a supposed grieving widow, who subsequently is arrested. Unnerved by the photographer's presence, Joe takes Dorothy to Prescott's office, just as the drunken doctor is showing Calhoun and Kelley how he fakes X-rays. After Kelley tells Joe that Prescott will be subpoened, Joe denounces the doctor as a traitor. Overcome with shame, Prescott deliberately walks in front of a passing automobile and dies in Joe's arms. In his apartment, a grief-stricken Joe confides in Dorothy that he became a crooked lawyer after the streetcar company mounted a phony defense against his first, legitimate client. Dorothy, who realizes that she has fallen in love with Joe, tries to confess her identity to him but, when she is unable, tells Calhoun that she is through with the case. After Calhoun threatens her with perjury charges, Dorothy rushes to the train station but is followed there by Joe. Confused, Joe tells Dorothy he loves her and convinces her not to leave, then finds a check from the streetcar company in her suitcase, which reveals her original mission. In spite of his discovery, Joe acts nonchalant and, at the trial the next day, proceeds with her "case" as usual. As expected, Calhoun reveals Dorothy as a plant and demands that she name Joe as the man who engineered the defrauding scheme. While she hesitates, Joe interrupts Calhoun's questioning and reveals that Dorothy is now his wife and therefore cannot testify against him. Although Joe is not implicated, he denounces Dorothy as a stoolpigeon and offers her money for a quick annulment. Crushed by Joe's anger, Dorothy tries to plead her case but again is rejected. Later, after he learns that Dorothy has been arrested for perjury, Joe confronts Calhoun, who tells him that Dorothy knew she would be jailed before the trial. Convinced now of Dorothy's love, Joe rushes to see her in prison but is snubbed soundly by her. Joe is determined to free Dorothy and arranges for a series of petty but expensive arrests of streetcar drivers and has Floppy fall in front of Calhoun's car to force him to relent. After Dorothy is released from jail, Joe vows to go straight and become a legitimate lawyer and husband.