The Bureau of Investigation and Hollywood Come into Existence
A little background…
In the first decade of the Twentieth Century, political, social, technological, cultural, and economic forces gave rise to momentous changes and advancements in life in the United States and abroad. Inventions as diverse as affordable automobiles, the powered controllable airplane, radio broadcasting and the radio receiver, dirigibles, the vacuum cleaner, radar, electrocardiogram, air conditioning, plastic, and the electric washing machine all came into existence.
The Progressive Era (1896-1916) also saw significant new thinking in society on how to solve a spectrum of issues. This gave rise to the creation in 1908 of a new “investigative force” (renamed as the Bureau of Investigation in 1909) on the Federal Government level to combat crime and public corruption. Simultaneously, the new film production industry benefitted from advances in equipment and techniques.
Motion pictures became the rage, and the industry grew with stunning speed. Thousands of films were made in the decades immediately following the creation of this new business. The Bureau grew more slowly but nonetheless grew steadily and expanded, opening offices in various cities nationwide.
The motion picture industry in the United States began primarily in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania before relocating primarily to Los Angeles, California to take advantage of its very favorable climate. The decision was made to build in an existing area in the central part of the city. The general location was known as Hollywood, and the first motion picture studio in that area was established in 1911.
It was inevitable that over time the work of the Bureau would attract the attention of Hollywood. By the World War I era and the early 1920s (which by then had J. Edgar Hoover in its ranks), it was involved in combatting not only crimes such as automobile theft and white slavery but also sabotage and espionage.
The plot of Laughing at Danger was written as a Comedy-Drama. The lead character (Alan Remington, played by established actor Richard Talmadge) in the one-hour long black and white movie is not a Special Agent in the BOI, and the BOI character does not appear until the final minutes of the movie when he arrests two of the major spies and would-be saboteurs.
The film is from the Silent Film Era (1894-1929), which means it has no soundtrack for dialogue or music. Subtitles are shown periodically on the screen as the movie plays. The capability for sound was not added to most motion pictures installed in theatres until later in the 1920s or early 1930s.
Available records reveal that filming for Laughing at Danger began in 1924 and it was released on Sunday, November 23, 1924. Back then, a Sunday commonly was a day off. Thanksgiving Day was the just days away, on November 27. It would have been a festive time to release a new Comedy-Drama motion picture in theatres.