Two Dollar Bettor Movie (1951)


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Director Edward L. Cahn

Producer Edward L. Cahn

Screenplay William Raynor as Bill Raynor)

Music Irving Gertz

Stars John Litel, Marie Windsor, Steve Brodie, Barbara Logan

Editor Sherman A. Rose (Sherman Rose)

Genre Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Release Date Sep 9, 1951

Runtime 72 min

Country United States

Language English

Cast

  • Steve Brodie as Rick Bowers, alias Rick Slate
  • Marie Windsor as Mary Slate
  • John Litel as John Hewitt
  • Barbara Logan as Nancy Hewitt
  • Robert Sherwood as Phillip Adams
  • Barbara Bestar as Diane ‘Dee’ Hewitt
  • Walter Kingsford as Carleton P. Adams
  • Don Shelton as George Irwin
  • Kay Lavelle as Grandma Sarah Irwin (as Kay La Lavelle)
  • Carl ‘Alfala’ Switzer as Chuck Nordillnger (as Carl Switzer
  • Isabel Randolph as Margaret Adams
  • Ralph Reed as Teddy Cosgrove Phelps
  • Barbara Billingsley as Miss Pierson (as Barbara Billinley)
  • Ralph Hodges as Chester Mitchell
  • Madelon Baker as Grace Shepard (as Madelon Mitchell)

Plot

Bank controller John Hewitt (John Litel) joins his friends to the local horse-race track. Unlike him, all of his friends are gamblers. They all spectate a horse race, but none of his friends’ wins. Towards the exit, he comes across his brother in law, George Irwin (Don Shelton), who gives him a betting tip on the big race later that night.

Hewitt’s friends convince him to take out a $2 bet on the 10-to-1 longshot. Fortunately, the horse wins, and Hewitt gets $20. He later wins big and even buys a fancy car for his two daughters. This impressive return on investment intrigues Hewitt and he later becomes a frequent horse race gambler.

John Hewitt regularly places his bets on the winning horses ridden by Eddie Osborne. However, his fortunes change when Osborne is injured for quite some time. Hewitt contacts a bookmaker who assures him of winning big from his tips.

The bookmaker links up Hewitt with his representative, Mary Slate (Marie Windsor). The latter meets Hewitt for lunch every Friday in a restaurant. On their first meeting, she gives him $451 cash for his winnings.

Hewitt later loses all of his remaining war bonds and savings. Being the controller to a local bank, Hewitt turns to embezzling the bank’s funds hidden in a safe. His debt amounts to $14,000, and he decides to borrow money from his brother in law to cover his act from his boss Carleton Adams (Walter Kingsford) during an upcoming financial audit. George promises to give him the money in six weeks.

Meanwhile, the bank owner’s son Phillip (Robert Sherwood) arrives in town, and he is the most serious suitor to Hewitt’s daughter, Diane ‘Dee’ Hewitt (Barbara Bestar). The owner decides to reward Hewitt by promoting him to the bank manager post. However, this means that the audit would come sooner than expected.

This forces Hewitt to steal a further $2000 from the bank, which he later stakes with his bookmaker. He heads to New Orleans to watch the race with his friends. Unfortunately, his pick is disqualified and only manages a second place. He heads home devastated, and he later calls Mary Slate to relieve his frustrations.

Mary maliciously pledges to help him in recovering his lost funds. She promises to connect him with her brother, who had been winning big every week. However, this is only a set up to extort money from Hewitt since the so-called “brother” was her husband, Rick Bowers (Steve Brodie).

Hewitt is accompanied by Slate to Rick’s premise, and the latter convinces Hewitt to book a sure $20,000 ticket on a sure win tip. Hewitt places the bet, but this time he can’t watch the race since his boss was introducing him as the new bank manager during the race time. He later calls the track organizers for the race results, and he is informed that his pick had lost.

He is also informed that both Slate and Rick had checked out of their apartment and work station, respectively. Hewitt picks up a gun, and he runs into them, demanding his $20,000. A brief confrontation erupts when Rick shoots at Hewitt, but the latter manages to kill them both. He picks up all the money, and he heads to his bosses’ place.

John Hewitt confesses to his boss, and he gives him the money promising to pay him the remaining $16,000 later. The bank owner records a statement with the police, but he covers up for Hewitt, claiming that he killed Slater and Rick in a case of self-defense. The film ends with scenes of the wedding between Philip and Diane.

Review

Edward L. Cahn produces and also directs this moralistic minor film noir. The film is a classic noir of the ’50s reflecting on compulsive gambling’s impacts and how an innocent bank controller falls from grace. The main star John Hewitt loses his security, happiness, and his life in the end.

John Hewitt plays a respectable widower with two daughters, Dee and Nancy, who he dearly loves. During his first visit to the Grandview Racetrack, he is convinced by his friends to place a bet. A $2 bet leads to misery and even death after that. He then meets Mary Slate, who at first pretends to be sympathizing with his situation.

She hooks Hewitt with her ex-con fiancé Rick who claims to be an assured bookie. Gunfire in the end ensues, and all of them die in the process. Bank owner Carleton Adams is a noble and understanding man who even intends to promote his soon to be an in-law. His son Philip plays a charming and learned man who has won over Dee’s heart. He brushes off a bunch of other potential suitors and eventually winning the approval of Hewitt.

The background is mainly the racetrack, but the producer uses other places to avoid boredom. The cinematographer ensures that the scenes depict what is expected on the various backdrops. While the picture quality is not the best you can have, it was still far much better than the other films produced at the time.

The background music perfectly suited the scenes and brought out the mood. Elsewhere, the aunt to the two daughters plays the piano with “Uncle George,” singing a fun song for the family and friends. The dialogue among the cast is fluent, and there’s an excellent match between the sound and each specific scene.

Compulsive gambling is highly discouraged in the film, and its consequences are heavily emphasized. The film is perfect for any viewer looking for any movie based on morals. The only disturbing scene will be the gunfire part.

However, I think that perfectly illustrates the intensity of Hewitt’s situation. A rating of 6.2 out of 10 suggests this classic noir is a decent one to watch. The film may not be popular to the modern-day audience, but it is worth watching to anyone ready to grasp some life lessons.

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