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Wiretapper (1955)

5.8
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Jin Vaus, Jr., U.S. Army electronics expert, is sentenced to a stockade term for unauthorized use of government equipment. He keeps it a secret from his fiancée, Alice, and pretends he has ... See full summary »

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(autobiography "Why I Quit Syndicated Crime"), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Wiretapper (1955)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Bill Williams ...
Jim Vaus Jr.
Georgia Lee ...
Alice Park Vaus
Douglas Kennedy ...
Charles Rumsden
Phil Tead ...
Mr. Wiggins - Postman
Stanley Clements ...
Tony
Ric Roman ...
Nick Castro
Richard Benedict ...
Romato
...
Herbie
...
Henchman
Melinda Plowman ...
Helen Park - Kid Sister
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Martin Benedict ...
Boy
Nick Benedict
Brunella Bovo ...
(as Barbara Hudson)
Evangeline Carmichael
Art Gilmore ...
Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Jin Vaus, Jr., U.S. Army electronics expert, is sentenced to a stockade term for unauthorized use of government equipment. He keeps it a secret from his fiancée, Alice, and pretends he has been overseas when he is discharged, and they are married.. He opens an electrical engineering company and becomes involved with a gangster mob headed by Charles Rumsden. She begs him to quit but he is useful to the crooks, discovering wiretaps, setting up alarm systems and even saving a hoodlum's life by disconnecting a time bomb. Gang-member Tony urges Jim to invent a device that could tap lines carrying race results and delay them so they could make some big money on post-race betting. After Tony is killed by a fellow mobster, Alice persuades Jim to attend a tent meeting held by evangelist Billy Graham. Graham's sermon and words so inspire Jim that he gives up his criminal activities. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true-life drama of the man who kept the Gangsters, the Gamblers and the Bookies always one step ahead of the law - until the moment when he tapped in on a direct line to God!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 August 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Preço da Vingança  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Low rent B-film
21 September 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This film is based on the life of actual mob wire-tapper, Jim Vaus.

The film begins with Vaus, played by Bill Williams, doing a five year bit in prison. Williams had been caught pilfering some electronic equipment belonging to the US Army. They were not amused, hence the extended holiday on the government dime.

The whole time he is in stir, he keeps in touch with his girl, Georgia Lee. She believes that Williams is stationed overseas dealing death to the Japanese. V.J. day comes and the government decides to give early release to a bunch of cons, Williams among them.

Williams heads home with a quick stop at a pawn-shop to pick up a Major's uniform to impress Georgia Lee. After all, he "has" been in the Army.

Williams opens up an electronic and electrical design shop with all the cash he can gather. Three months later and it looks like he'll have to close do to a lack of customers. That is till mob lawyer, Douglas Kennedy, hires him to fix a radio and a malfunctioning doorbell.

While doing these repairs at Kennedy's home, Williams discovers that the place is lousy with bugs all wired to the house next door. Kennedy is very pleased with this info and slips Williams a couple $100 bills. Kennedy tells Williams there is plenty more where that came from and to keep his mouth shut.

Several years later, Williams is rolling in dough as he does various "jobs' for Kennedy and his mob clients. He quickly finds himself in so far that he cannot quit. He is far too useful and knows far too much.

Things start to get hairy when he is called in to defuse a bomb hooked up to a radio at mobster Richard Benedict's house. Williams then blows all his savings on a mob tip on a "fixed" race. Now he owes the mob cash when the nag fails to come in.

After just escaping with his life following a botched drive-by hit on Benedict. Williams wife, Lee, tells him, "The mob or me!" "I need a little time to scrape some cash together and then we can move away." Responds Williams.

Williams has been working on a system to tap into the phone lines of the racetrack. He can get the race results several minutes before they hit the bookie joints. All he needs is a inside man to place the bets.

Enter low rent mobster Stanley Clements. Clements is tired of getting all the crap jobs for Benedict and company. A fat roll of green ones sounds like a great idea. The two make a series of small bets at various bookie joints to avoid drawing attention. A grand or two here and there helps to build up Williams saving again.

Needless to say Clements wants to increase the wagers. This of course results in them getting caught. Benedict, Kennedy and the boys are less than amused. Clements gets a bullet for his troubles. Williams is told that he will be running the device for Benedict's mob. It is that or an overdose of lead like Clements. They plan on taking the device on the road and get rich off other mob set-ups.

Williams is at a loss what to do. That night the wife talks Williams into joining her at a Billy Graham revival meeting. Something in Graham's sermon hits home with Williams and he decides to quit the mob.

He tells Benedict that he has found the light and is through with crime. Kill him if they must, but he will not work for them any further.

For a bottom B-film, it holds it own right up to the being saved part. While this might have worked for Vaus in real life, as film-making, it is like hitting a wall at 50 mph. A dead stop and a definite feeling of being ripped off.

Bill Williams had roles in THE BODY SNATCHER, JOHNNY ANGEL, DEADLINE AT DAWN, A WOMAN'S SECRET, A DANGEROUS PROFESSION and THE CLAY PIGEON. Kennedy had bits in NORA PRENTISS, DARK PASSAGE, THE UNSUSPECTED, TO THE VICTOR, WHIPLASH, FLAMINGO ROAD, BACKFIRE, CONVICTED, REVENUE AGENT, THE BIG CHASE, CRY VENGEANCE and CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL. Benedict, who made a living out of playing thugs, was in SOMEWHERE IN THE NIGHT, CROSSFIRE, RACE STREET, SMART GIRLS DON'T TALK, SHOCHPROOF, HOMICIDE, SCENE OF THE CRIME, THE WINDOW, POST OFFICE INVESTIGATOR, STATE PEN, INSIDE THE WALLS OF FOLSOM PRISON, ACE IN THE HOLE, HOODLUM EMPIRE and BREAKDOWN.

The director was Dick Ross whose work included such masterworks as OILTOWN USA and SHADOW OF THE BOOMERANG. The d of p was Ralph Woolsey. Woolsey, in later years would be the d of p on THE NEW CENTURIONS and THE GREAT SANTINI. Screenplay was by John O'Dea and was based on the book, WHY I QUIT SYNDICATED CRIME by Jim Vaus. (b/w)


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