Jail Bait

Length: Two reels
Release date: January 8, 1937
An Educational Pictures Production
Presented by: E. W. Hammons
Distributed by: 20th Century-Fox
Producer: E.H. Allen
Director: Charles Lamont
Story: Paul Gerard Smith
Photography: Dwight Warren

Buster Keaton: Newspaper Copyboy
Harold Goodwin: Reporter
With: Matthew Betz, Bud Jamison, and Betty Andre

Elmer is an office-boy at a local newspaper, and is struggling to get the attention of a cute female secretary. The paper’s biggest story of the week is the discovery of the body of one of criminal “Sawed-Off” Madison’s victims – Sam Gordon. Elmer’s roommate hatches a plan to capture Madison himself by luring the police away from their efforts to capture the criminal. To do this, he gets Elmer to pose as Madison and get himself arrested while the same roommate takes a flight towards Madison’s location (on the dreaded Skyhawk “13”). Elmer’s roommate is supposed to free Elmer before he’s hanged, but the Skyhawk 13 crashes, killing the roommate, and putting Elmer in dire straits.

Elmer escapes during a riot, disguising himself as both a policeman and another prisoner (depending on who happens to be passing by). He and the other prisoners escape by putting themselves in barrels and hitching a ride to Sawed-Off Madison’s cabin in the desert. They realize that Elmer is an imposter posing as Madison and are about to shoot him full of holes when the police arrive. A shoot-out begins. Madison escapes through a trapdoor to get to his car, but Elmer follows, hitching a ride on the back of the car just as Madison takes off with it. Buster gets a large wrench, knocks Madison out (off-screen), and drives back to the police station where he turned himself in. They give him a large sum of money, larger than the one his roommate promised, and he uses it to get a ring for the cute secretary seen at the beginning. — Nick Ciccone