The Big Tip Off


1h 18m 1955

Film Details

Also Known As
Sweet Charity, Twilight Alley
Release Date
Mar 20, 1955
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
William F. Broidy Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,079ft

Synopsis

Columnist Johnny Denton sneaks into his office at the Los Angeles Chronicle and, though suffering from a gunshot wound, begins dictating a message to his friend, Sister Joan of Arc. As Johnny muses about what can drive a human being to such misery, he remembers how his current troubles began: At his favorite nightclub, Johnny meets an attractive woman named Penny Conroy. Johnny is intrigued when Penny asks if he remembers Robert Gilmore, his childhood friend from Chicago, and he laughingly reminisces about the smooth-talking Bob. Much to Johnny's surprise, Bob is waiting outside, and when Johnny admires his car, Bob states that he inherited a million dollars and invites him out to his new house in Malibu. Later, at the house, Bob tells Johnny that Penny is only an employee, not a romantic interest, and that he is grooming her to help him with his charitable works. Bob informs Johnny that his organization has been operating for three years in Chicago, and that he came to Los Angeles to "crash" into high society and raise more money. Johnny suggests that they start by helping St. Anne's Parochial School with its annual bazaar, and after Bob and Penny agree, Johnny goes to the school to discuss the idea with Father Kearney. The priest offers to present the proposal to Sister Joan of Arc, the school's new teacher, who is in charge of the bazaar, and later that day, Johnny himself receives an interesting proposition. A stranger, who states that Johnny once helped a pal of his, offers to give Johnny tips on underworld activities, which could make Johnny's column famous. The ambitious Johnny agrees, although the man insists that he never reveal his source. Soon after, Johnny receives a call telling him that prominent citizen Dan Curry is about to be killed because of his outstanding gambling debts, and Johnny arrives on the scene just after Curry is shot to death. Without alerting the police, Johnny rushes to a nearby phone and calls in the story. Guilt-stricken, Johnny admits to himself that he could have stopped the crime, but the subsequent flurry of attention over his scoop eases his conscience. Johnny is questioned by his longtime friend, Lt. George East, but alleges that his presence at the crime scene was a lucky break. Johnny then meets Sister Joan, who is reluctant to let an outside organization run the bazaar but acquiesces after Johnny assures her that Bob's company is honest. Later, Johnny visits Penny, who has been taking deportment and dance lessons, and realizing that Penny is lonely, urges her to return to Chicago, where she can lead a normal life. Penny insists on staying, however, and when Johnny returns home, Curry's drunken brother and friend beat him up for refusing to divulge the name of Curry's killer. The following day, Penny learns about the attack and anxiously tries to comfort Johnny, but he coolly states that he never makes a "play" for Bob's girls. Penny storms out, and later, at the bazaar, Father Kearney and Sister Joan are thrilled by the increased business generated by Penny's help. Concerned about Johnny's connections with the underworld, Sister Joan chides him for valuing headlines above human lives, but when Johnny receives another tip that mobster Richard Naydell has been murdered, he leaves the bazaar and rushes to Naydell's home. This time, Johnny does inform East about the crime before calling his newspaper, but still refuses to divulge the name of his informant. When Johnny refuses to testify before a grand jury, he is sentenced to thirty days in jail, and his case becomes a nationwide source of controversy. Upon his release, Johnny visits a worried Sister Joan, who has been investigating Bob and believes that he is a crook who uses charities as a front for embezzling money. Sister Joan also suspects that Bob is behind Johnny's underworld tips, and Johnny agrees to check out her allegations. Later that afternoon, Bob angrily denies Sister Joan's suppositions and offers to help Johnny sponsor a television charity telethon. Bob assures him that the monies received will be handled by a local accounting firm, and that Joan can designate the recipient. Joan refuses to become involved, however, and again urges Johnny to help the police find Curry and Naydell's killers. The next afternoon, Sister Joan takes Johnny to visit Curry's widow and brother, who apologizes for attacking Johnny. After a nightmare-ridden sleep, Johnny tells Penny about his decision to cease taking the underworld tips and return to his old column about helping people. Feeling renewed, Johnny begins publicizing the telethon, which will raise money for a public hospital, while Penny organizes the talent to appear on the show. Later, just before the show is to start, a repentant Penny attempts to telephone Johnny and warn him that Bob has been using him and intends to steal the money raised. Bob catches her, however, and after chasing her onto the beach, strangles her and tosses her into the water. Although he is baffled by Penny's absence, Johnny begins his emcee duties on the telethon and welcomes guests such as April Stevens, Chuy Reyes and Spade Cooley and Ginny Jackson. After Johnny has spent sixteen hours on the air, Bob finds him backstage and tells him that he is treating him to a trip to Hawaii, and that he is to leave immediately. Bob promises that Penny will meet him at the airport, and so Johnny goes there directly from the television studio, but is instead met by East. The policeman goes through Johnny's bags, which were packed by Bob, and finds $10,000, then angrily demands the additional $100,000 that is missing from the telethon monies. Johnny pleads his innocence, but the lieutenant does not believe that Bob is guilty. Johnny knocks East down and escapes, then sneaks into Bob's Malibu house. Surprised by Johnny's appearance, Bob claims that Penny left voluntarily, then warns Johnny that if he kills him, he will be killing the only person who can prove his innocence. Johnny is badly beaten during their subsequent struggle for his gun, but manages to hide from both Bob and the police. The next morning, still hiding at Bob's house, Johnny figures out Bob's embezzlement scheme, and that he must have caused Penny's disappearance. Johnny sneaks out to see Sister Joan, whom he convinces to arrange a meeting with Bob. That night, while he is waiting to meet with Bob, Johnny is apprehended by East, who agrees to allow him to confront Bob and record their conversation. During the meeting, Bob arrogantly confesses to the embezzlement, and to killing Penny and Naydell. After taunting Johnny, Bob grabs the tape from the recorder and attempts to escape, and while the two men struggle in the street, the tape is washed down a sewer. Johnny is wounded but manages to shoot and kill Bob before escaping to his office. There, his reminiscences over, Johnny ends his dictation to Sister Joan and uncovers a note on his desk to call Penny at the hospital. Johnny rushes to the hospital, where Penny, who survived her ordeal, has informed the police about Bob's schemes. Sister Joan counsels Penny to pray, then, satisfied that Penny and Johnny have reformed, leaves the beaming couple alone.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sweet Charity, Twilight Alley
Release Date
Mar 20, 1955
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
William F. Broidy Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,079ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Sweet Charity and Twilight Alley. The footage of Chuy Reyes, Spade Cooley and Ginny Jackson was taken from the 1950 Nunes-Cooley Productions release entitled Everybody's Dancin' (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
       Although a November 5, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Keith Larsen had been cast in a starring role in The Big Tip Off, he does not appear in the completed film. Hollywood Reporter news items include Virginia Grey, Tom Ladd and Art Morriss in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed.