Michael Cassidy is the managing-editor of a small newspaper which is about to be closed down by its new owner, Matthew Cooper, who owns another newspaper in the city and only bought the second one to get rid of the competition. There has been a kidnapping in the city and Cassidy gets one of the hundred-dollar-bills, paid in ransom, at a saloon and begins to trace the bill backwards step-by-step to get to the kidnappers. He is aided by Ellen Frazier, a schoolteacher, who is the only eye-witness. Each step leads to a miniature drama of it own to...to the widow, Ruby Alley, at the wake of her dead prizefighter-husband...to the owner of a gambling house, Arno, who discovers that his brother, the cashier of the casino, is involved in the kidnapping...to a husband who is not thrilled to learn his wife ahas been cheating on him...before he finds the kidnappers. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This remarkable little action-drama follows newspaper editor Melvyn Douglas as he traces back the ownership of a $100 bill, used as ransom money in a notorious kidnapping case, from hand to hand. The clever premise is absorbing in itself, but also serves as an excuse for a series of dramatically charged vignettes revealing the complex lives of a myriad of well-drawn, idiosyncratic characters, as the investigation descends the social scale. Director Leslie Fenton packs a wealth of detail into the 60-plus minute running time, keeping the camera and actors moving at all times, but knowing when to pause for effect. Many have remarked on the moving sequence of a black boxer's wake (surprisingly dignified and emotional for the time), but just as stunning is the chilling look of murderous intent in the ancient Halliwell Hobbes's eyes as he learns that his much younger wife is being unfaithful. The cast is filled with veteran bit players (including Mantan Moreland in a don't-blink cameo), there are a few nice comic touches, and the small-city newspaper office scenes are authentic looking. By the way, Seinfeld fans should note that Douglas must have been the original "close talker" as he blusters about imposing himself on people's lives.
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