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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

'The Counterfeit Plan' DVD: Just When You Think That You Are Out, They Pull You Back In

Counterfeit Plan, The
The 1957 noir film "The Counterfeit Plan" is notable as one of the more sinister titles of this type in the uber-awesome Warner Archive catalog.
The simple but compelling premise of this tale would also make a great episode of the long-running true-crime series "The F.B.I." that Archive offers on DVD.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene in "Plan" lays out the story nicely and demonstrates the talent of the cast.


"Plan" opens with hard-core criminal Max Brant, played by Zachary Scott of "Mildred Pierce," making a successful daring prison break and then forcing his way into the beautiful English manor of his (now reformed) former partner-in-crime Louie Bernard with an aim to implement the titular scheme. The very prolific Mervyn Jones does an excellent job as the polished and kind Bernard, who expertly left his criminal life behind until the unexpected (and unwelcome) arrival of Brant.

The idea that Brant develops calls for having expert forger Bernard create engraving plates and using the basement of his domicile to print low denomination English and U.S. currency that a team of conspirators would distribute in small amounts throughout England. The discussion of the net profit from all this makes it seem that the effort is almost not worth the work.

The drama veers into "melo" territory when the unexpected arrival of Brant's daughter Carole, who has no knowledge regarding the source of the family fortune, ultimately requires forcing her to further the objectives of this newly formed enterprise. Throwing the "nice young man" on whom Carole is sweet and who starts nosing around in response to concern for her further stirs the pot.

Much of the appeal of this film relates to the seemingly realistic "behind-the-scenes" look that it provides regarding printing and distributing counterfeit money. It almost makes audience members want to set up a printing press in their own basements.

Additionally, there are enough shoot-outs and fist fights to entertain the eight-year-old boy in all of us. The even better news is that each confrontation makes sense.

On a larger level, Scott and the rest of the cast do excellent jobs in their respective roles. They convey the viciousness, nobility, fear, etc of their characters well and rarely feast on the scenery.

Other nice notes relate to good plot twists and the last-minute resolution that is typical of earlier noir productions. In these regards, "Plan" can be considered a gem from a period at the end of an era of great crime-centric black-and-white dramas.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Plan" is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.