Counterfeit


1h 13m 1936

Film Details

Also Known As
Queer Money
Release Date
May 25, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Capper Stevens, a well-educated man-about-town, runs a counterfeiting ring. Using his girl friend, Aimee Maxwell, as a decoy, he kidnaps U. S. Treasury Department engraver Tom Perkins and forces him to make money plates. When Aimee's sister Verna is evicted from her apartment, Aimee goes to help her, and while they are in Aimee's car, they are held up by a man who demands her purse. Just then, a police car spies the holdup and arrives on the scene, but Aimee, knowing her purse carries counterfeit money, tells the officer that the thief is actually a friend. The police become suspicious, however, and trail Aimee's car, causing the thief, whose name is John Madden, to ambush the patrol car, apparently killing its occupants. In reality, however, the holdup and the ambush were staged by John, who is really a secret service agent trying to infiltrate Stevens' counterfeiting ring. The ploy works, and Aimee takes John to gang headquarters, where Stevens welcomes him, believing he is a killer. Later Stevens captures a federal agent and orders John to kill him, and John fakes the murder. Meanwhile, Stevens keeps Verna a prisoner, fearing that she will go to the police if she is released. By now, John loves Verna, but is reluctant to reveal his true identity. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., federal agents lay the groundwork for capturing the counterfeiting ring, to which Treasury agents have traced nearly a million dollars, although the exact location of the plant that prints the bills is as yet unknown. When agents arrest "passers" of the fake money, Stevens moves his gang to a country estate, where the bills are printed, and John is held captive and is unable to report to Washington. When Verna becomes hysterical, Stevens orders John to kill her during a hunting trip. John signals a passing army plane, giving them the location of the plant, and asks them to expedite the arrests. Just as John is about to fake Verna's death, the Treasury agents arrive and raid the hideout. Aimee is killed in the melee, and John is wounded, but Stevens and his gang are captured. After he returns to Washington, John makes a plate for an engraved wedding invitation to his and Verna's wedding.

Film Details

Also Known As
Queer Money
Release Date
May 25, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)


With his sharp glare, pockmarked cheeks, clipped speech pattern and menacing air, Marc Lawrence had certainly carved a reputation for himself as one of the screen's finest character actors for villainous roles. Lawrence, whose career was harmed by the Hollywood blacklist in the '50s, died of natural causes on November 27 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 95.

Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).

Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).

After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).

It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.

Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).

In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.

by Michael T. Toole
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)

Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)

With his sharp glare, pockmarked cheeks, clipped speech pattern and menacing air, Marc Lawrence had certainly carved a reputation for himself as one of the screen's finest character actors for villainous roles. Lawrence, whose career was harmed by the Hollywood blacklist in the '50s, died of natural causes on November 27 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 95. Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948). Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951). After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963). It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction. Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Queer Money. According to the film's file in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in 1935 the Hays Office had declared a moratorium on gangster/G-men pictures, specifically films which showed "American gangsters armed and in violent conflict with the law." In a letter to Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, dated November 21, 1935, Paramount producer B. P. Schulberg defended this film's story in lieu of the gangsters/G-men statute stating, "We do not deal with 'gangsters and cops' but with a smart international counterfeiting ring, who are pursued by and finally defeated by the 'T men' themselves without the aid of cops or resorting to the usual gangster film gun battles." The filmmakers were forbidden to show the counterfeiters fully armed and in possession of an extensive arsenal, most notably in the final battle scene. The filmmakers had to observe a Federal statute forbidding the photographing of American money. A Hollywood Reporter production chart includes Nana Bryant, Victor Kilian and Doris Lloyd in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed.