Johnny Stool Pigeon

Synopsis: In San Francisco, during the 1940s, US Treasury agents interrupt an illicit exchange between a sailor and a drug dealer. During the shootout, the sailor is killed but the drug dealer escapes. Later on,the agents pick up the trail of the fugitive drug dealer but arrive at his apartment too late. The dealer lays dead, permanently silenced by a hired hit-man. The only thing the agents have is an address book found on the dead drug dealer's body. Among the clues there is one that seems to be promising: the address of a shady Canadian trading company based in Vancouver. Treasury agent George Morton decides to visit a convict in Alcatraz and solicit his help in infiltrating the underworld. Morton knows that convincing the imprisoned criminal Johnny Evans to become a stool pigeon for the Feds won't be easy. But Evans is Morton's only hope to infiltrate the underworld and crack the case.
Director(s): William Castle
Production: Universal Pictures
76 min

Stand where you are.

All right. Get'em up, both of you.

I'm Harrison, customs.

That's Morton, Narcotics Bureau.

He got away.

The sailor's dead.

Call the coroner's office, will you, please?

John Whalen. Age 20 years.

Only a kid.

Not a bad kid, just foolish.

Somebody in Shanghai told him a way

to make an easy buck and he believed them.

Smuggling. Nothing to it.

All you needed was a little luck.

And so one night on a Shanghai dock

they slipped something into his hand

that looked like an ordinary can of tobacco.

Only it wasn't.

And John Whalen wasn't lucky.

That was the start of tracking down

one of the biggest narcotics rings

in the history of the bureau.

But we didn't know that then.

All we knew then was that we'd had a tip

to watch the docking

of a certain vessel from the Orient

and that a kid sailor had walked off it

to his death.

The next step was to identify

the man who got away.

That wasn't too hard to do.

We had a pretty thorough filing system.

He turned out to be an old friend

listed by the Bureau as Pete Carter.

Hiya, boss.

Good morning.

Hi, Morton, Sam.

Well, what did you find?

It's Carter, all right.

Only a little older and heavier now.

Aren't we all?

Pete Carter. Alias Carl Nobel,

alias Harvey Coleman.

What's our last report on him?

Late '41, early '42.

Always a West Coast operator?

As far as we know.

I don't like it.

Steady operator. Long record.

Drops out of circulation during the war.

But, now he's back.

A guy like Carter doesn't play for peanuts.

He'll have an organization in back of him.

He'll have a new source of supply lined up.

I tell you, this guy is big time.

He's latched on to something.

Like what?

Our ports of entry are closed like ratholes.

We know there's nothing coming in

from the Far East.

You customs men have

a big territory here, fellow.

Eighteen hundred miles of coastline.

Borders north and south.

What do you think?

I don't know.

But I don't like it.

Let's put him under surveillance

and see what that gets us.

Ordinarily, yes.

This time I'd say no.

This time I'd say bring him in.

But he's the only lead we got

to the boys at the top of the mob.

If we bring him in, we tape our hand.

If we don't, it might take months,

years before we get to the top.

I want to crack this outfit now.

It's liable to take a lot longer

than that if he won't talk.

What's the ballistics report

on the kid sailor?

He's got something.

It shows your gun didn't kill him.

Or yours either.

So it must have been Carter.


Bring him in.

With a murder rap hanging over him

he might sing like a canary.

Okay, boss.

A successful manhunt is usually

the result of long and often dull routine.

But there is one shortcut.

A professional informer, who makes a business

of picking up a few precarious dollars

by selling scraps of information to the authorities.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

When it does,

it can save a lot of time.

This time it did.

Hello, Mr Morton?

Carter is at the Zelder apartments.

Corner of Grant Street.

Room 303.

Well, there goes our lead.

Yeah. Proves one thing, anyway.

Benson's hunch about the outfit

behind him.

Yeah, they play rough.

Smart, too. Way ahead of us.

They knew he'd talk when we got him

so they beat us to him.

Maybe we can nab the guy who did it.

Professional job, hired gun.

Chances are he didn't even know

who he was working for.

They'll send in another man to take up

where Carter left off

and maybe after six months

we get next to him

maybe six months later we'll find out

who his boss is

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Robert L. Richards

Robert L. Richards was a film screenwriter. Richards worked on a number of notable films of the 1940s and 1950s including Winchester '73, Johnny Stool Pigeon, and Act of Violence. His radio work included writing for the Suspense series which aired on the CBS network from 1942 until 1962. Among Richards' numerous Suspense offerings was his critically acclaimed neogothic horror thriller entitled The House in Cypress Canyon broadcast on December 5, 1946. Considered one of the tautest, most chilling dramas in the Suspense canon, the now classic show featured Robert Taylor, Cathy Lewis, Hans Conried, and Howard Duff in starring roles. Richards was blacklisted in Hollywood because of his left wing views. He wrote under various pseudonyms to get work, until he finally gave up and became a carpenter. He retired to Pátzcuaro, Mexico, where he died, still bitter about the career he had lost. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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