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Johnny Stool Pigeon

Johnny Stool Pigeon(1949)

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While following a trail of narcotics, San Francisco-based Treasury agents George Morton and Sam Harrison interrupt an illicit exchange between sailor John Whalen and drug dealer Pete Carter. In the ensuing confusion, Carter shoots and kills Whalen, then escapes. Later, Morton and Harrison locate Carter, but arrive at his hideout seconds after hired killer Joey Hyatt, a mute, murders him. From Carter's address book, the agents deduce that he was working with the Arctic World Trading Company of Vancouver, Canada. After Morton offers to go undercover to expose the drug ring, he contacts convict Johnny Evans, a former childhood friend, and asks for his help in catching the dealers. The embittered Johnny at first refuses to cooperate with the man who "sent him up," but when Morton takes him to the morgue and asks him to identify his wife, who was found dead from a drug overdose, Johnny relents. Johnny is released from prison and, though he vows revenge against Morton, coaches him on how to act and dress like a criminal. Calling himself Mike Doyle, Morton joins Johnny at the Arctic Trading Company and convinces its owner, William McCandles, that he is a potential drug buyer with connections at the Mexican border. That night, McCandles introduces Morton and Johnny to his girl friend, Terry Stewart, who is immediately attracted to Morton. Although Johnny warns Terry to stay away from Morton, she persists, and the next day, Johnny and Morton discover her on board their Tucson-bound train. Terry admits that McCandles sent her to spy on them, but insists that her real objective is to escape McCandles and start a new, more prosperous life in Tucson. There, Johnny, Morton and Terry check into the exclusive B-Bar-M dude ranch, where McCandles has arranged for them to meet a contact. Also at the ranch is Joey, who stares at Morton as though he has seen him before. Johnny and Morton are then officially greeted by Nick Avery, the ranch's garrulous owner, who turns out to be their contact. After Johnny survives a beating by Avery's henchman, Charlie, Avery is satisfied that he and Morton are not narcotics agents and tells them about his drug operation. The next day, Terry accompanies Avery to Mexico, upsetting Johnny, who has fallen in love with her. While watching Johnny and Morton argue about Terry in the ranch bar, Joey suddenly recalls seeing Morton at Carter's apartment and rushes to inform Avery. Later, Avery tells Morton that Johnny has come up with a plan to smuggle his drugs across the border from Nogales, and that Joey is to go with them. Realizing that his cover has been blown, Morton takes a chance on Terry and entrusts her with a note, notifying the authorities about Nogales. While Johnny drives Morton and Joey to Mexico in one car, Avery and his men drive another. Near Nogales, Johnny, who Morton assumes has double-crossed him, stops at an abandoned building, knocks out Morton and exchanges gunshots with Joey. Although wounded himself, Johnny drags Joey's lifeless body away, and when Morton revives, he is alone. Morton hitches a ride to the border, where the police, having been alerted by Terry, are searching every vehicle. Just then, Johnny staggers up and before collapsing, whispers to Morton to watch for a funeral. Morton and the police rush to catch a funeral procession that has just crossed the border and discover Joey's body in the coffin and a hiding place for drugs in the lining. As the drugs have already been removed, Morton and the police race to the dude ranch, where Avery and a frightened Terry are preparing to flee with the stash in a private airplane. Hoping to keep Avery from taking off, Morton drives a car onto the runway, stopping directly in front of the plane. Desperate, Avery is about to crash into the car when Terry grabs the controls and forces the plane off the runway. Later, after everyone from McCandles to Avery has been arrested and convicted, a recovered Johnny and Terry leave court together, free to start their lives over with the blessing of a grateful Morton.