Public Domain Theater: The Inner Circle (& “Susie the Little Blue Coupe”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This month, we have for you a fun a little mystery film from 1946, The Inner Circle. Its PI hero is one Johnny Strange of Action Incorporated, who gets mixed up in a case of murder, blackmail, mob ties, and con artistry: all the hits. The plot is twisty, the dialogue’s snappy, and with a runtime of just 56 minutes, it’s a nice way to pass some time on a rainy Saturday afternoon (I don’t know if it’s rainy or Saturday/the afternoon in your time zone, but let’s pretend it is).

We also have an animated short, “Susie the Little Blue Coupe”, from none other than Walt Disney Studios! Yes, believe it or not, there’s a handful of cartoons even the Mouse’s lawyers weren’t sharp enough to keep out of the public domain. This one has the beautiful animation you expect from the studio, as well as some of the expected sentimentality, but it also goes to some shockingly dark places. Like, it may only be the story of a cartoon car, but there’s a couple scenes that approach being genuinely harrowing.

So, c’mon, drive your little blue coupe over to the offices of Action Incorporated, and take a look at some overlooked gems from the public domain!

Opening Cartoon:

Feature Presentation: