6.1/10
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8 user 5 critic

Bunco Squad (1950)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 1 September 1950 (USA)
A detective goes after a ring of phony "mediums" who are trying to swindle a rich widow out of her fortune.

Director:

(as Herbert Leeds)

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Tony Weldon - aka Anthony Wells
...
Det. Sgt. Mack McManus
...
Jessica Royce
...
Barbara Madison
...
Fred Reed
...
Princess Liane
...
Drake - aka The Swami
...
Annie Cobb
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kathleen Ellis ...
Julie (unconfirmed)
Jewel Rose ...
Young Widow (unconfirmed)
Cecil Weston ...
Susan (unconfirmed)
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Storyline

Told in semi-documentary style, this film deals with a little-known section of the Los Angeles Police Department which is assigned solely to checking on the activities of fortune tellers, swamis, palmists, and other occult societies, missing only Sciencetology. The primary story has L.A. police detectives Steve Johnson and 'Mack' McManus tracking down a wave of suicides they think have been influenced by a swindler-murderer Anthony Wells. The latter runs a pretentious house staffed with occultists across the board, and is trying to embezzle from Jessica Royle, a wealthy widow whose son was killed in action in World War II. Johnson uses his fiancée/actress, Grace Bradshaw, as an undercover operative to get inside information. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 September 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mensaje del otro mundo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shot in 13 days. See more »

Goofs

Tony Weldon (Ricardo Cortez) attempts to escape in a 1949 Packard, but when it crashes, stock footage of a much older (early 1930s) model is used. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over a background image of a zodiac chart. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Detective Robert Sterling out to foil an occult swindling ring headed by Ricardo Cortez
3 January 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I watched an excellent print of "Bunco Squad" (1950) last night, and liked it. Robert Sterling is a bunco squad detective whose job is to put some kind of a lid on the efforts of fake mediums, numerologists, crystal ball gazers, and those promising communication with the spirits of the dead. On the side, he romances Joan Dixon, a movie starlet. Eventually he finds a role for her as a police-devised medium, in order to wean Elisabeth Risdon away from the "Rama Society" whose aim is that she change her will and leave them $2 million. Douglas Fowley is Sterling's sidekick. The Rama Society is a scheme devised and led by Ricardo Cortez. We see in a lot of detail how the swindle is established so as to gain Risdon's confidence. The initial trick is to obtain information about her lost son, Phillip, and to feed it to her in small doses as communication with him. Cortez has assembled a gang of spiritualists, including Bernadene Hayes as "Princess Liane". John Kellogg has several functions, including deadly methods. Marguerite Churchill is Risdon's secretary who cannot persuade the elderly woman that she's dealing with fakes. Dante the Magician helps Sterling establish Dixon as a medium.

The story is told very efficiently and without pretense. It's well-acted. The location shooting and old cars add to the variety of con artists to impart a feeling of kookiness of the Los Angeles of that time. The plotting is very effective by weaving its various threads together so well.


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