A murderous bank robber on the run from the law hides out in a small town, where he gets a job as a cab driver. He meets a young girl who is caring for her ill but wealthy aunt. He courts ... See full summary »
"The Counterfeiters" (1948) is a film noir listed by critic John Grant as such. This is a lively movie with lots of forward motion, currently available on YouTube. The first frame shows it's under the banner of "Reliance Pictures, Inc." and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It's always a pleasure to see a good film made by an obscure company.
As in "Money Madness" by the same director, Sam Newfield (as Peter Stewart), the central criminal is Hugh Beaumont. Again, he's tough, ready to shoot to kill. Here, Doris Merrick restrains him. It's bad enough having the feds after you without having them after you for murdering one of theirs. Lon Chaney, Jr. works with Beaumont. His character is interesting. At times, he's thick and at other times very perceptive. He's manipulated by the comic George O'Hanlon, the actor who did all those Joe McDoakes comedy shorts. The bad guys all want the counterfeit plates for themselves. Merrick's father currently has them. The story is laden with their rivalries, which makes it very interesting, because they also work with one another.
In addition, John Sutton is an undercover Scotland Yard man who has tracked his quarry to America and is working with the likes of Don C. Harvey to get this gang and the plates.
Scott Brady appears briefly as an assistant, muscle and chauffeur, to Beaumont. Brady's menace is palpable. In one scene, Sutton looks as if he's concerned that the scene will be stolen by the non-verbal Brady.
Sam Newfield has 276 directing credits on IMDb, mostly westerns, but substantial amounts of other genres. He had to know exactly what he was doing! The "sensesofcinema" web site has an informative biographical article about this b-film giant and his brother, Sigmund. It tells us how well Newfield got along with actors and motivated them to act. It suggests how the economies of his film making influenced how the films come across. "Newfield's many Westerns are straightforward and violent, with a minimum of character development; his big-city dramas, such as Queen of Broadway (1943), and his horror films, in particular Dead Men Walk (1943) and The Flying Serpent (1946), are grimly procedural, moving with inexorable assurance towards their generically predestined ends." And "On the set, Newfield preferred to shoot long master takes with few close-ups, making his master shots the key coverage of his scenes. Close-ups were reserved for detailed action a door opening, a gun firing, a safe being cracked and thus Newfield's films have an air of hermetic finality in their execution which is, for better or worse, his alone."
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