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Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 16 September 1933 (USA)
Butch Saunders has been transferred to Missing Persons because he was too brutal in other police work. He regards the assignment as "kindergarten" work. When a young woman asks him to help ... See full summary »


Roy Del Ruth


Robert Presnell Sr. (screen play) (as Robert Presnell), John H. Ayers (story "Missing Men") (as John H. Ayres) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Norma Roberts
Lewis Stone ... Capt. Webb (as Lewis S. Stone)
Pat O'Brien ... Butch Saunders
Glenda Farrell ... Belle Saunders
Allen Jenkins ... Joe Musik
Ruth Donnelly ... Pete
Hugh Herbert ... Hank Slade
Alan Dinehart ... Therme Roberts
Marjorie Gateson ... Mrs. Paul
Tad Alexander ... Caesar Paul
Noel Francis ... Alice Crane
Wallis Clark Wallis Clark ... Mr. Paul
Adrian Morris Adrian Morris ... Detective Irish Conlin
Clay Clement Clay Clement ... Burton C. Kingman
Henry Kolker ... Theodore Arno


Butch Saunders has been transferred to Missing Persons because he was too brutal in other police work. He regards the assignment as "kindergarten" work. When a young woman asks him to help locate her husband, Therme, he learns that she is really Norma Phillips, wanted by Chicago police for murder of her husband. She escapes, but Saunders borrows a corpse from the morgue to arrange her fake funeral. The trap brings the woman and Therme to the mortuary out of curiosity. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SHAME is responsible for the "amnesia" plague which has swept America! See how cases of lost memory are faked so betrayed girls can face the world again! Learn the truth about runaway wives, "lost" women, vanished men in this blazing drama of the super-sleuths who are smashing the snatch racket! (Print Ad- Philadelphia Inquirer, ((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 27 September 1933)


Comedy | Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

16 September 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Missing Persons See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to a contemporary article in Daily Variety, Warren William was slated to play the lead in this picture. See more »


Butch tells Capt. Webb he found Caesar on a roof on 10th Avenue, which is on the west side of Manhattan. However from shots from the roof, the Manhattan Bridge is visible, which spans the East River from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. The bridge is too close for the rooftop to be on 10th Avenue. See more »


Joe Musik: Did she show up yet?
Butch Saunders: Nah, she's late.
Joe Musik: Late for her own funeral.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are presented on title cards See more »

Alternate Versions

When the movie was re-released in 1936, the credits were revised to list the then-popular Bette Davis first. The re-released version is the one shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel. It is unknown whether other changes were made. See more »


Referenced in Arena: Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Cast, Crazy Story
9 August 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)

*** (out of 4)

Insane, over-the-top, crazy, silly but oh so entertaining drama from Warner throws pretty much everything at the viewer hoping any of it will stick. The film takes place at the title division where Detective Butch Saunders (Pat O'Brien) is sent to work because he's too violent for the other locations. Along the way his Captain (Lewis Stone) sets down new rules for him, which requires brains and not violence but Butch meets his match in a woman (Bette Davis) that he falls for not knowing she's wanted for murder. BUREAU OF MISSING PERSONS is everything you'd want in a "B" picture from Warner. You've got a terrific cast, a wild and wacky story, some violence and just one strange scene after another. This is really one crazy little movie for a numbers of reasons. One of the biggest is that Detective Butch lives up to his reputation of being violent as he's not even afraid to slap a woman or two around. What's so funny (or unfunny depending on how you see it) is that the film goes for comic relief by having him smack around women. I won't ruin what happens at the very end of the movie but to say it's a little bit uncomfortable would be an understatement. Of course, O'Brien was a genius at playing this wise cracking, fast talking tough guys and he's a lot of fun here. Davis gets top billing even though she doesn't appear until the 35-minute mark but she's good here and the scenes with O'Brien are a lot of fun. Stone is also very good in his part and we get nice supporting bits by Glenda Farrell, Allen Jenkins and Hugh Herbert. It's best that one goes into this movie with their brain turned off because the "mystery" of the so-called "plot" is pretty stupid and there are so many holes in it that it never makes too much sense. The entire film remains entertaining because you really never know what's going to happen next. Fans of these type of Warner pictures should have a lot of fun with this one.

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