The Mugger


1h 14m 1958

Brief Synopsis

An unidentified city is plagued by a mysterious mugger who attacks women at night, steals their purses, and cuts them on their left cheek. A police shrink, Dr. Pete Graham, is called in when one of the mugger's victims turns up dead.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Barbizon Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Mugger by Ed McBain (New York, 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

After the eleventh unsolved mugging of a woman in New York City, the police turn to former policeman turned psychiatrist Pete Graham for assistance. Upon questioning the latest victim, Pete draws forth details that imply that the mugger may not be a common criminal. The attacks are all linked by a knife scratch made by the mugger on the victims' left cheek. Departing police headquarters for the apartment of fiancée Claire Townsend, a decorated policewoman, Pete hails a cab driven by acquaintance Eddie Baxter who pleads with Pete to speak with his eight-month pregnant wife Molly. Molly is concerned by the behavior of her melancholy younger sister, Jeannie Page, who has recently taken a job working at a disreputable dance hall. Pete reluctantly agrees to meet with Jeannie, who lives at the Baxters' house, and there he meets Nicholas Grecco, a wealthy neighbor smitten with Jeannie. Beyond admitting that she knows Claire, Jeannie refuses to confide in Pete. After Pete departs, Nicholas pleads with Jeannie to go on a date with him, but she rejects him. Later that evening, Pete dines with Claire, who is on undercover assignment at the dance hall. After another mugging is reported, Pete and Det. Jim Kelly sit on a stakeout in the neighborhood of the latest attack and Jim wonders why the mugger has not more seriously harmed his victims. Pete describes the attacker as someone who probably cannot resist his aggressive impulses, but finds the fear he creates sufficient gratification. After trailing a false lead, Pete and Jim learn that a known Chicago mugger, Jack "Skippy" Randolph, arrived in New York on the day of the first attack. Pete then takes Jim to Fat Donner's Turkish bathhouse, a clearinghouse for newly arrived petty criminals. At the baths, Fats agrees to locate Randolph in exchange for a guarantee that his license renewal will go smoothly. Fats takes Pete to a floating crap game that night, which Randolph also attends. After several hours, Pete's winning streak begins to fail. Hoping to win Randolph's confidence, Pete helps him steal the money from the table and the men flee. At a diner, Pete encourages Randolph to believe that he is an ex-con and Randolph eventually asks him to partner with him mugging old men. Pete arrests Randolph for carrying an illegal weapon, then goes to the dance hall to see Claire. After Jeannie refuses Pete and Claire's invitation to dinner, saying she has a late night date, Claire tells Pete that she followed Jeannie one evening to make sure she arrived home safely. Instead of going home, however, Jeannie took the subway to the far outskirts of the city where she was met by a handsome man. Claire then speculates that Jeannie is involved in a covert romance. At headquarters the next day, just as Pete learns that Randolph does not match the victims' descriptions, Jim announces that another victim has been stabbed to death. Shocked, Pete accompanies Jim to the murder site and is stunned to find that the victim is Jeannie. A pair of cheap sunglasses is found near the body, which provides several clear fingerprints. An autopsy reveals Jeannie was three months pregnant. Pete informs Molly and Eddie of Jeannie's death, but tells only Eddie about the autopsy results. Pete then attempts to question Nicholas, but learns he has left town. At headquarters, the chief summons Pete to relay that the mayor has demanded the mugger be found, prompting the chief to suggest they set up a trap. The chief proposes to use Claire as bait for the mugger, having her wear a microphone that is wired to a plainclothesman who will follow her at a short distance to assist should she be assaulted. The trap works as planned except that Claire must initially fend off a drunken sailor who then distracts Claire's partner, Officer Connelly. When Claire is attacked by the mugger, Connelly is delayed, allowing the mugger to fight off Claire. Claire manages to tear the attacker's coat and snatch a cigarette pack and a matchbook from the pocket. The cloth is fine material and the cigarettes an exclusive brand. That evening, Pete takes Claire, Jim and Sgt. Cassidy to the restaurant named on the matchbook. There, proprietor Jimmy Wilson helps Pete identify the customer who smokes the cigarettes as Franklin Corey, a soft-spoken married man with connections to the syndicate. Corey and his wife are at the restaurant and when Pete approaches him, Corey readily surrenders. At headquarters, Corey is identified by all of the victims, but staunchly denies Jeannie's murder. Jim reveals Corey's prints do not match those on the glasses and then states that Nicholas began army training the day prior to the murder and therefore has an alibi. Pete and Claire are scouring the neighborhood Jeannie visited when Claire spots the young man she saw Jeannie meet. Pete is aghast when Claire points to Eddie. Pete and Claire hire Eddie to take them back across town, but on the drive, Pete questions Eddie, who grows increasingly nervous. When Claire presses Eddie as to whether he ever picked up Jeannie at the dance hall, he breaks down and confesses his romantic involvement with his sister-in-law and his fear when she became pregnant. Growing hysterical, Eddie declares his intention to commit suicide and begins speeding, ignoring a patrol car that chases him. Eddie speeds to the pier, abandons his cab and attempts to flee on foot with Pete, Claire, the patrolmen and other local police in pursuit. Desperate, Eddie hurls himself off of the pier after a departing ferry, only to be pulled into its propellers and killed.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Barbizon Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Mugger by Ed McBain (New York, 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The movie was filmed on location in New York City. An October 1957 news item incorrectly referred to the film as The Muggers. The Mugger was the second "8th precinct" Ed McBain novel filmed. Ed McBain was the pseudonym of author Evan Hunter. Modern sources include David Sheiner in the cast, playing the role of "Sidney." The film marked the debut of actor George Maharis and actress-comedienne Renée Taylor.