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Off the Record

Off the Record(1939)

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After his mother dies, teenager Mickey Fallon is about to be sent to an orphanage when his brother Joe returns and agrees to take care of him. Joe, unknown to the judge, is a bookmaker working for gambler Lou Baronette. Mickey is given a job as a spotter in a pool hall, where he watches the users of pinball machines to make sure they are not stealing money from them. This is where Jane Morgan, a soft-hearted newspaper columnist, finds him while making a phone call. She writes a column exposing the situation, which leads to Joe's arrest. Baronette asks Joe to cover for him by going to prison, promising to make it worth his while. Mickey is sent to a reformatory for three years. Jane is present at the trial and is furious that Baronette has escaped punishment.

Therefore, when fellow reporter Thomas "Breezy" Elliott proposes marriage, Jane accepts, both because she loves him and because she sees the marriage as the perfect opportunity to rescue Mickey from the reformatory. She convinces the authorities to release Mickey to her. Even though he hates Jane for her role in Joe's arrest, Mickey takes advantage of her offer, hoping to help his brother. At first Mickey causes a lot of trouble, but when Breezy succeeds in interesting him in newspaper photography, Mickey finally finds something he likes and is good at. Things are looking up for Mickey when he gets a telegram from Joe asking him to visit the prison. At the prison, Joe asks Mickey to bring $500 to a restaurant on a certain night. Mickey tries everything to raise the money with no luck.

On the same day that Joe escapes from prison, Mickey is accused of stealing a diamond that he photographed earlier in the day. Breezy questions him, but although Mickey denies stealing the jewel, he refuses to say where he was during the crucial time. Breezy reluctantly kicks him out of the house. Mickey keeps his appointment and finds Joe waiting in the restaurant. After Joe reveals that he intends to kill Baronette, Mickey tries to stop him. In the shootout that follows, Baronette and Joe kill each other and Mickey is wounded. Mickey calls Breezy to tell him of his brother's death.

In the meantime, Jane has discovered from Mickey's photographs that the jeweler lied about the missing stone in order to collect on the insurance. Breezy brings Mickey back home, learning that the boy sold his camera in order to get the money he needed for his brother.