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Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 20 April 1949 (USA)
US Treasury agent George Morton persuades convicted criminal Johnny Evans to help him destroy a drug smuggling ring in exchange for early parole.

Director:

William Castle

Writers:

Henry Jordan (story), Robert L. Richards (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Howard Duff ... George Morton
Shelley Winters ... Terry Stewart
Dan Duryea ... Johnny Evans
Tony Curtis ... Joey Hyatt (as Anthony Curtis)
John McIntire ... Nick Avery
Gar Moore Gar Moore ... Sam Harrison
Leif Erickson ... Pringle
Barry Kelley ... William McCandles
Hugh Reilly Hugh Reilly ... Charlie
Wally Maher Wally Maher ... T.H. Benson
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Storyline

In San Francisco, during the 1940s, US Treasury agents interrupt an illicit exchange between a sailor and a drug dealer. During the shootout, the sailor is killed but the drug dealer escapes. Later on,the agents pick up the trail of the fugitive drug dealer but arrive at his apartment too late. The dealer lays dead, permanently silenced by a hired hit-man. The only thing the agents have is an address book found on the dead drug dealer's body. Among the clues there is one that seems to be promising: the address of a shady Canadian trading company based in Vancouver. Treasury agent George Morton decides to visit a convict in Alcatraz and solicit his help in infiltrating the underworld. Morton knows that convincing the imprisoned criminal Johnny Evans to become a stool pigeon for the Feds won't be easy. But Evans is Morton's only hope to infiltrate the underworld and crack the case. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They cracked the back of the world's blackest racket ! A cop ! A dame ! A killer ! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 April 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Contraband See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Goofs

Near the end, when Morton and the plane are on a collision course, we see through Morton's car window the plane has lifted off, and is about to clear the car, but when they cut to the crash, the plane hasn't left the ground. See more »

Crazy Credits

[prologue] In their never-ending task of law enforcement, the officers of the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Customs of the United States Treasury fight many battles such as the one you are about to see. Their successes are a tribute to their skill, intelligence and courage. To their fearless officers we respectfully dedicate this picture. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Johnny Staccato: An Angry Young Man (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The feds infiltrate heroin ring; good cast in routine noir
4 February 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Federal agents risking mortal danger to infiltrate criminal syndicates supply one of the basic templates for film noir. The crooks can variously be counterfeiters (as in T-Men) or traffickers in illegal laborers (as in Border Incident) or, here in Johnny Stool Pigeon, heroin smugglers.

Those first two films were by the resourceful Anthony Mann; Johnny Stool Pigeon is by William Castle, no Mann but later to become the king of cheapie horror flicks after an apprenticeship in noir (his When Strangers Marry may be the best of his juvenilia).

It's a creditable if not especially memorable effort, thanks mostly to a cast headed by Dan Duryea, Howard Duff, Shelly Winters (in her sexpot phase) and, in a non-speaking part, young Tony Curtis (here billed as "Anthony," a better billing than he got in the same year's Criss Cross, where his manic rhumba with Yvonne De Carlo went uncredited).

Narcotics cop Duff knows his only chance to crack an international drug ring is by springing a convict (Duryea) whom he'd help put in Alcatraz. The oil-and-water team of unwilling partners travels from San Francisco first to Vancouver then, gang moll Winters in tow, to a dude ranch near Tucson run by the mob.

The plot's volatility depends on the possibility of Duff's being sold out by Duryea or recognized by Curtis, who spends half the movie knitting his brows in an effort to remember where he'd seen Duff before. Reckoning finally comes at a dangerous drug buy at the Nogales border crossing.

As a straight arrow, Duff's not bad, though in more ambivalent roles in movies like Shakedown or The Naked City, he can turn into a slithery chameleon. The reliable Duryea does his soured cynic number -- he had it down pat by now. Winters adds a dash of hot sauce, but it's a sketched-in part at best. Johnny Stool Pigeon adds up to a pretty routine hour-and-a-quarter of noir -- but that's far from faint praise.


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