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TRAPPED (director: Richard Fleischer; screenwriter: Earl Felton/George Zuckerman; cinematographer: Guy Roe; editor: Alfred DeGaetano; music: Sol Kaplan; cast: Lloyd Bridges (Tris Stewart), Barbara Payton (Meg Dixon/alias Laurie Fredericks), John Hoyt (Agent John Downey/alias Johnny Hackett), James Todd (Jack Sylvester), Russ Conway (Chief Agent Gunby), Robert Karnes (Agent Fred Foreman), Fred Graham (Cop Outside Nightclub), Bert Conway (Mack), Douglas Spencer (Sam Hooker); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bryan Foy; Eagle-Lion Films; 1949)
“Richard Fleischer directs this minor so-so crime thriller in a semi-documentary style.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Richard Fleischer directs this minor so-so crime thriller in a semi-documentary style, as he deifies the U. S. Treasury Department to such a point that he makes it seem as if they are godlike. The Treasury Department is in charge of the Coast Guard, Bureau of Customs, the collection of internal revenue, the enforcement of federal narcotics, the engraving and printing of money, and the capture of counterfeiters.

This story will deal with counterfeiters. When a nearly perfect queer $20 bill turns up at a California bank, the Secret Service traces it to the master plate of incarcerated counterfeiter Tris Stewart (Lloyd Bridges) who is doing time in an Atlanta federal prison for passing counterfeit money. Considering that Tris has seven more years to go on his jail sentence, they strike a deal to get him a shortened sentence if he tracks down who is using his old plates. The T-men scheme a prison break when Tris is escorted to another prison in Kansas City. But their plans are stalled as Tris leads them on a wild goose chase while rooming in Chicago with Agent Foreman. Plan B makes it easy for Tris to jump the agent and flee, and they now see if they can trail the counterfeiter while he’s free to roam on his own. Tris ends up in Los Angeles with his loyal sexy girlfriend Meg Dixon (Barbara Payton), who works as a cigarette girl at the Chanteclair nightclub under the alias of Laurie Fredericks. Undercover Agent John Downey (John Hoyt) keeps an eye on her, as he hangs out at the club as a regular customer under the name of jailed petty criminal grifter Johnny Hackett and tips the cigarette girl big under the guise he’s making a play for her. When Tris shows, Meg’s room is bugged and the agents learn that Tris’ partner was Sam Hooker who kept the plates but sold them to shady real estate man Jack Sylvester (James Todd).

Warning: spoiler to follow.

Things get more involved when Agent Downey takes some risks and somehow ends up being a partner to Tris, as he’s asked to raise $25,000 in real dough so that it could be traded for $250,000 of Sylvester’s nearly perfect queer money. The T-men watch every move, but there are a series of changing events and that calls for more changes on their part. Predictably their tail leads to the bad guys getting caught. After a few reversals Agent Downey scores a deal with Sylvester but when Meg shows up to rat the T-man out as a copper, the agent is about to be executed. Just in the nick of time, the police pick up Downey’s trail as a motorcycle cop alertly spots Sylvester’s vehicle and the counterfeiters are trapped in a trolleycar garage. A final shootout ensues, and the story wraps up in a routine way. It should be noted that this is the only time I can recall that John Hoyt played the hero, he’s otherwise always cast as a heavy, or a miser, or as an eccentric older relative.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”