In 1933 film producer and original “shockumentarian” Willis Kent set his eyes on exposing what he saw as the phoney racket of psychics. Earlier in his career Kent had made a name for himself by producing the film “The Pace that Kills” a little film about dope, heroin, cocaine addiction and prostitution. His later films would be about things…even worse.
The Psychic Racket
Sucker Money, happily is a short little jaunt into what Willis saw as the grifty world of phony-bologna psychics. The film is billed as an “Expose of the Psychic Racket” but in reality is just a 60 minutes or horrible acting.
“I see in this crystal ball you will be bored” – John E.L. Tenney, after watching this movie.
In one sense the film is fun seeing how the “psychic powers” are pulled of by Swami Yomurda and his henchmen, dry-ice and hidden cameras and string; they’ve got the “con” down. But, ultimately the movie is a slog even at less than a hour run-time.
Psychic / Ghost Breaker Connection
Interestingly enough the film is co-directed by Dorothy Davenport who was the widow of actor Wallace Reid. One of Reid’s most famous roles was in the 1922 film Ghost Breaker. Reid later died from a drug addiction which is how Davenport probably got involved working with Kent.
The film is slow but, sometimes, fun and offers a glimpse into how psychics were seen by some in the early 1930’s; especially by people who were seemingly obsessed by cocaine, heroin, white slavery, prostitution and dope.