Unimpressed with the particeps criminis of Blood Money's "pavement plot", New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall expressed moral indignation: "This whimsical little tale of thievery, thuggery and attempted slaughter was mistaken for entertainment by Darryl Zanuck" but those "unfortunate enough to want some suggestion of logic in their motion pictures will be somewhat disappointed in this effusion." Overall, Hall characterized Blood Money as "flat stuff". Consider Hall's priggish disdain all the more reason to catch this rare screening.
At TCM's companion blog Movies Morlocks, Moira Finnie observes: "Made at Twentieth Century Productions a little over a year before their merger with Fox Studios in 1935, the film went ahead in the first year of Darryl Zanuck's stewardship of the studio. It was one of the movies that seems to reflect the young mogul's brashly iconoclastic Warner Brothers' roots. Featuring themes centered around an exploitive relationship between the corrupt rich and the underworld, the symbiotic ties between criminals and police, loyalty among thieves that was often more reliable than conventional morality, shifting gender roles, and the stranger fruits of human desire, it is far less known than other crime films of that same period, such as Little Caesar and Public Enemy."
Dennis Harvey has so wryly pointed out in his preview of the Roxie pre-Code series—is no doubt a euphemism for the world's oldest profession, often "never exactly named" in these pre-Code narratives. "This latest Roxie series," he notes, "features plenty of its practitioners, dames at once hard-boiled and over-easy but ready to go soft for an upstanding guy."
Chick Chandler) at the racetrack, Elaine "goes for the thief like a feline does catnip" (Ivan G. Shrieve, Jr.) and thrills in his rough kisses that "hurt her lip." And her closing scene, as described by Leonard Maltin, is "a knockout." (Best left unspoiled.) Finnie adds: "According to her biographer, Andrew Wentnik, 'When a friend … admonished her for playing a prostitute in Blood Money (1933), she denied it saying, 'I played a masochistic nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac, not a prostitute.' " Incidentally, during the scene at the racetrack when Talbart falls for Drury, he's in the company of two women, one who is Lucille Ball in an uncredited role.
Katherine Williams who IMDb describes as the "Nightclub Woman Wearing Monocle". In one of my favorite scenes from the film, Bill Bailey enters Ruby Darling's "nightclub" and encounters a mannish young woman at the bar dressed in a suit and sporting a monocle. He offers her a cigar. She smells it and scoffs, "You big sissy!" As the rough Drury Darling is initially depicted as this cross-dressing woman's partner—he chases after her—one wonders who's zooming who in this S&M merry-go-round?
Butch In Progress. "Her outfit," they write, "gorgeous as it is, could be used as an example of 'How to dress a lesbian in classic film'." They're quoting from David M. Lugowski's essay "Queering the New Deal: Lesbian and Gay Representation and the Depression-era cultural Politics of Hollywood's Production-Code" where Lugowski writes: "At her most overt, the lesbian was clad in a mannishly tailored suit (often a tuxedo), her hair slicked back or cut in a short bob. She sometimes sported a monocle and cigarette holder (or cigar!) and invariably possessed a deep alto voice and a haughty, aggressive attitude toward men, work, or any business at hand. Objections arose because she seemed to usurp male privilege; perhaps the pansy seemed to give it up."
Within that same scene is a fantastic performance by Blossom Seeley who, Mordaunt Hall writes, "wears a big hat and sings", though her performance is much more engaging than that for situating Mae West's bawdy influences. According to notes at TCM, Variety speculated that some of Blossom Seeley's scenes were cut. How unfortunate!