The city is in the middle of a crime wave. Jake Pelotti (Tristram Coffin) is the head of one gang. The head of the other is Biff Garr (Charles Jordan). The commissioner (Emmett Vogan) is on Police Chief Murphy’s (Edgar Kennedy) back, so Murphy is on everybody else’s back. The crime wave must be stopped. In the middle of it walks Professor Cosmo Jones (Frank Graham), professor of psychological criminology. He has just graduated from a correspondence course “The Art of Detection”. He is at the police station to offer his services as a special investigator. Murphy tosses him in the clink. Police Sergeant Pat Flanagan (Richard Cromwell), knowing the chief’s temper, gets him out.
Several days later Flanagan is driving Cosmo home. They witness a kidnapping attempt on Phyllis Blake (Gwen Kenyon) the daughter of oil tycoon James J Blake (Herbert Rawlinson). Phyllis is dating gang member, Tom Hayes (Gil Stanley), who was inside the nightclub they were at during the kidnapping attempt. Flanagan takes her statement. At Tom’s urging, she plays it down and says they tried to snatch her purse. Flanagan leaves but Cosmo stays behind to investigate.
At the same time of the kidnapping attempt a shot rings out and a bystander is hit. An assistant janitor, Eustace Smith (Mantan Moreland) finds the body. When he tries to run away he runs smack into Cosmo. Cosmo determines that the man is still alive. An ambulance is called. An investigation into the shooting is launched. Phyllis, goaded by Tom, maintains there was no kidnapping and that no one had guns except Flanagan. The commissioner believes that Flanagan shot the by-stander. He is now under suspicion and demoted until the outcome of the investigation.
Professor Jones knows that Flanagan is innocent and that there really was a kidnap attempt. Cosmo enlists Eustace’s help as his sidekick in his investigation. He first convinces Phyllis to come clean on the kidnapping. Before things can be cleared up another kidnapping attempt is made on Phyllis. This time it is successful. “Cosmo Jones in Crime Smasher” AKA Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher” was released in 1943 and was directed by James Tinling. The film is a poverty row crime/comedy produced by Monogram Pictures.
The movie is not all that memorable. There are some really fine actors in it like Mantan Moreland, Edgar Kennedy, Tristram Coffin and Gale Storm, but the script is not that great and the plot kind of meanders. Monogram had planned on doing a series of Cosmo Jones pictures but this was the only one ever produced. It’s not horrible, just not great. Mantan is stuck doing the usual scared Black Man trope. He was still probably the best actor in the film.
The character Cosmo Jones is based on a radio program. This is an obscure movie based on an obscure radio show. Frank Graham played the correspondence course detective on the radio as well as in the film. Though he did many voiceovers on radio and film, “Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher was the first movie he actually acted in. And as far as I know the only movie he acted in. Known as the man with a thousand voices Graham committed suicide in 1950 at the age of thirty-six.