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The Clay Pigeon (1949)

Jim Fletcher, waking up from a coma, finds he is to be given a court martial for treason and charged with informing on fellow inmates in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Escaping from ... See full summary »

Director:

Richard Fleischer (as Richard O. Fleischer)

Writer:

Carl Foreman (story and screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bill Williams ... Jim Fletcher
Barbara Hale ... Martha Gregory
Richard Quine ... Ted Niles
Richard Loo ... Ken Tokoyama - aka The Weasel
Frank Fenton ... Lt. Cmdr. Prentice
Frank Wilcox ... Dr. Matson - Navy Hospital Doctor
Marya Marco Marya Marco ... Mrs. Helen Minoto (as Mary Marco)
Robert Bray ... Gunsel Blake
Martha Hyer ... Miss Harwick - Wheeler's Receptionist
Harold Landon Harold Landon ... Danny - Blind Veteran in Hospital
James Craven James Craven ... John D. Wheeler
Grandon Rhodes ... Naval Intelligence Agent Clark
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Storyline

Jim Fletcher, waking up from a coma, finds he is to be given a court martial for treason and charged with informing on fellow inmates in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Escaping from the hospital he tries to clear himself by enlisting the aid of Martha Gregory, widow of a service buddy he was accused of informing on. Helped also by Ted Niles, a surviving fellow prisoner, he gets closer to finding the answers he needs, and becomes ensnared in a grandiose scheme involving his Japanese ex-prison guard, $10,000,000 of US currency forged by the Japanese and a burgeoning crime network poised to wreak havoc throughout southern California. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1949 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Alma em Sombras See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a contemporary article in The Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence Tierney was slated to star in this film. See more »

Goofs

When the train is shown leaving Los Angeles with "The Weasle" on board, it has a Pennsylvania Railroad logo on the nose of the locomotive. The Pennsylvania did not serve the west coast - this was obviously stock footage. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Cmdr. Prentice: [after the bad guys have been captured] ... fortunately you've been of considerable service to the Treasury Department.
Jim Fletcher: I don't understand.
Lt. Cmdr. Prentice: Well, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese expected to invade the West Coast. They printed one hundred million dollars worth of American money. Somehow, Tokoyama stumbled into a cache of part of this. Some ten million dollars. And, when he and Niles ran into each other in Japan after our forces came in, they went into business together.
Jim Fletcher: [astounded] Ten million ...
[...]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Trim and stripped-down thriller about post-war Japanese counterfeit racket
12 July 2003 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

When Bill Williams comes out of a coma at a Naval hospital in Long Beach, he knows who he is but doesn't know why he's there. But he overhears staff talking about his impending court-martial for treason: Apparently he snitched on his fellow Americans in a Japanese prison-camp, leading to their deaths by torture. No fool he, he grabs some civvies and slips out the door, headed to San Diego and the widow (Barbara Hale) of one of his dead buddies.

She's understandably unhappy to see him and even more so when he binds and gags her, then heads north to Los Angeles in her car, with her in it. When pursuers almost run them off the road and down a ravine, she starts to believe his story about being innocent. In L.A., he enlists the aid of another survivor (Richard Quine), who advises him to lay low as the `Old Lady' (the Navy) is watching them both.

Then one evening in the White Lotus, a `chop-suey joint' oddly run by Japanese, he spots among them the most sadistic of the guards, nicknamed `the Weasel.' Soon he finds himself the fall guy, or clay pigeon, in a transpacific scheme to launder millions in counterfeit currency printed in anticipation of Japanese victory and occupation. Its operations come very close to him....

The Clay Pigeon is another of the trim and stripped-down noir thrillers churned out by Richard Fleischer in the post-war years. While not as deftly worked out as Armored Car Robbery or The Narrow Margin, it clocks in at just over an hour and delivers the goods. Its stars, Williams and Hale, were married at the time and would remain so until his death. Among their children is actor William Katt (Williams' birth name), the spit-and-image of his dad. Hale, of course, had a long run as Perry Mason's gal Friday, and Raymond Burr named an orchid he cultivated after her - not Della Street, but Barbara Hale.


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