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Decoy (1946) More at IMDbPro »

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Up 25% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Nedrick Young (screenplay)
Stanley Rubin (story)
View company contact information for Decoy on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 September 1946 (USA) See more »
She Treats Men the Way They've Been Treating Women for Years!
A mortally wounded female gangster recounts how she and her gang revived an executed killer from the gas chamber, to try and find out where he buried a fortune in cash. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
A knockout film noir with no frills, save Methylene Blue – and Jean Gillie as Margot Shelby. See more (42 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Jean Gillie ... Margot Shelby (as Miss Jean Gillie)
Edward Norris ... Jim Vincent

Robert Armstrong ... Frankie Olins
Herbert Rudley ... Dr. Lloyd L. Craig

Sheldon Leonard ... Police Sgt. Joe Portugal
Marjorie Woodworth ... Craig's Nurse
Philip Van Zandt ... Tommy (as Phil Van Zandt)
Carole Donne ... Waitress
John Shay ... Al
Bert Roach ... Mack - Bartender
Rosemary Bertrand ... Ruth
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Walden Boyle ... Chaplain (uncredited)
Martin Cichy ... Policeman (uncredited)
Tom Coleman ... Trucker at Roadside Inn (uncredited)
Franco Corsaro ... Kelsey (uncredited)
Madge Crane ... 1st Visitor (uncredited)
Dick Elliott ... Driver (uncredited)
Virginia Farmer ... Georgia - Margot's Maid (uncredited)

Pat Flaherty ... Policeman (uncredited)
Jody Gilbert ... Mrs. Noonan (uncredited)
Chuck Hamilton ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Betty Lou Head ... 2nd Visitor (uncredited)
Donald Kerr ... Elevator Operator (uncredited)
Thomas Martin ... Night Club Patron (uncredited)
Louis Mason ... Thin Morgue Attendant (uncredited)
Austin McCoy ... Piano Player (uncredited)
Don McCracken ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Kenneth Patterson ... Pete - Morgue Driver (uncredited)
Albert Petit ... Waiter (uncredited)
William Ruhl ... Prison Gate Guard (uncredited)
Scott Seaton ... Prison Attendant (uncredited)
William Self ... Station Attendant (uncredited)
Hal Taggart ... Night Club Patron (uncredited)
Ferris Taylor ... Benny - Fat Morgue Attendant (uncredited)

Ray Teal ... Policeman at Roadblock (uncredited)
Harry Tyler ... Counterman (uncredited)

Directed by
Jack Bernhard 
Writing credits
Nedrick Young (screenplay) (as Ned Young)

Stanley Rubin (story)

Produced by
Jack Bernhard .... producer
Bernard Brandt .... producer
Cinematography by
L. William O'Connell (director of photography) (as L.W. O'Connell)
Film Editing by
Jason H. Bernie  (as Jason Bernie)
Costume Design by
Lorraine MacLean (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Lorraine MacLean .... hair stylist
Milburn Morante .... makeup artist (as M. Morante)
Production Management
Glenn Cook .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William A. Calihan Jr. .... assistant director (as Wm. Callihan)
Art Department
Dave Milton .... set designer
Sound Department
Tom Lambert .... sound recordist
Visual Effects by
Mario Castegnaro .... transparency projection shots (uncredited)
Larry Glickman .... special optical effects (uncredited)
Music Department
Edward J. Kay .... musical director
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
76 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
USA:Approved (PCA #11768, Adult Audience)

Did You Know?

Director Jack Bernhard met wife Jean Gillie in England, where he was stationed during WWII. He intended this film as a vehicle to showcase her to American audiences, but they divorced a short while later, and she did only one other film before her early death at age 33.See more »
Boom mic visible: In Dr. Craig's office, when his nurse is walking toward him and expressing concern about his decision to abandon his practice for the weekend, the shadow of the boom microphone can be seen crossing the cloth screen next to the nurse.See more »
Frank Olins:Lay out the dough Vince. You know you'll get it back, soon as I can out of here.
Jim Vincent:No Soap Frankie. You've just been gassed. How do I know what kind of shape you in? Maybe you wouldn't be able to pull through an operation.
See more »
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30 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
A knockout film noir with no frills, save Methylene Blue – and Jean Gillie as Margot Shelby., 7 December 2002
Author: bmacv from Western New York

When Jean-Luc Godard dedicated Breathless to Monogram Pictures, foremost in his memory must have been Decoy. It's a movie whose reputation, over the years, has grown into folklore, because it's all but impossible to view or obtain. For aficionados of film noir, it has attained the stature of a Holy Grail (or Maltese Falcon), a fabulous treasure the quest for which seems doomed to futility. It has, however, showed up at festival screenings, and now circulating, in samizdat as it were, is a subtitled copy taped from Croatian television.

While probably it can't ever live up to the inflated legend that trails in its wake, it's decidedly no disappointment. Monogram and its raffish rivals on Poverty Row shot fast and cut corners, working from fast-and-loose scripts full of implausible chunks of plot for viewers either to swallow or choke on. Usually, the results were shoddy and forgettable. But now and again enough elements came together to generate unexpected chemistry. Decoy marks one such serendipitous occasion.

The key element in this explosive reaction is Jean Gillie, an English actress whose early death in 1949 deprived cinema of one of its darkest Jezebels. Like her compatriot Peggy Cummins (Annie Laurie Starr in Gun Crazy), she makes no attempt, as Margot Shelby, to Americanize her origins; in explanation, Decoy lets her spit out her contempt for poverty in an eloquent aria about that 'dingy, dirty street' that 'runs all over the world,' and through the sooty mill town in England she came from. She vows never to go back to want, and her unquenchable greed powers the plot.

Tricked out in haut-forties snoods, stoles, muffs and dead-serious hats, Gillie cuts a swath through the various men who stand between her and the $400-grand stolen by her gangster boyfriend (Robert Armstrong. Trouble is, he's the only one who knows where it's stashed but won't tell even though he's on death row.

But her days as a high-maintenance moll have taught her a thing or two, one of them that a tincture called Methylene Blue can reverse an execution by cyanide. She works her wiles on maverick mobster Edward Norris and an idealistic doctor who does prison autopsies (Herbert Rudley), enlisting them in her gruesome scheme. They hijack the fresh corpse, en route to an 'oven job,' and, in a sequence reminiscent of Frankenstein, bring it back to life.

Still, the tight-fisted old zombie won't trust them, instead roughing out a map to the buried strongbox but keeping half (why just half?) against the prospect of this second coming's failing to take. It's a turn of events that kicks Gillie's avarice into lethal overdrive....

Though the movie wouldn't be remarkable without Gillie, it shows a fair amount of craft. From his 11 recorded directorial credits, Jack Bernhardt couldn't have been expected to contribute much, but he adds some arresting details (a sprung window shade in the doctor's office among them) and an offbeat pace. He splits the ending in two, leaving half in its proper place and opening the movie with the other, in a gas-station men's room where the shattered mirror and filthy sink outdo one another as emblems of last-ditch squalor. Police detective Sheldon Leonard figures prominently in those two segments; the rest of the movie is told in extended flashback.

There's barely a moment when Gillie isn't front and center, for which gratitude should be fulsome. She delivers a go-for-broke performance, short on nuance but long on the flamboyant gesture. She coldly guns the motor to run down one of her victims, skitters into hysterical giggles when she shoots the next, and, dying, laughs in Leonard's face after coaxing him to kiss her ('Jo Jo, just this once, come down to my level'). She's a knockout, and because of her the elusive Decoy, despite the inevitable shortcomings of its Monogram origins, can be counted a knockout, too – film noir with no frills.

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