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Mister 880

Mister 880(1950)

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The working title of this film was Old 880. The opening credits contain the following statement: "Photographs of currency were made by special permission of the Secretary of the Treasury and further reproduction, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited. This picture was made with the assistance of the Treasury Department and the United States Secret Service." According to a September 1950 article in Life, the story was based on the case of an actual counterfeiter known as "880," who eluded the Secret Sevice for ten years, despite the fact that he used ordinary bond paper rather than the special Treasury stock. Although the one dollar bills he passed featured blurred printing, misspelling and poor quality engraving, they were accepted by a broad number of businesses located on the upper West Side of New York City. Finally caught in 1948, 880 turned out to be a mild-mannered ex-janitor who supplemented his modest income by counterfeiting.
       According to a March 2, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, Walter Huston was originally to star as "Skipper Miller," but died on April 7, 1950, just prior to the start of production. A March 21, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that George Cukor was initially slated to direct the film. Other Hollywood Reporter news items note that John Archer was tested for a role in the film and that Otto Waldis, the former drama department head at the University of Alabama, was set for a role, but Waldis' appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A April 10, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Arthur F. Grube, who worked as technical advisor on the picture, was a retired Secret Service agent. According to studio publicity items contained in the film's production files at the AMPAS Library, the dog in the film, "Skipper," also worked as "Daisy's" stand-in in the "Blondie" films. Edmund Gwenn received a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Academy Award nomination. On October 15, 1952, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of St. Clair McKelway's story, starring Gwenn and Dana Andrews. On October 31, 1956, CBS broadcast a televised version of the story titled "The Money Maker" on The 20th Century-Fox Hour. That production starred Spring Byington, Terry Moore and Robert Sterling.