Undercover Agent (April 19, 1939)

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Undercover Agent
 

Released on April 19, 1939: Racketeers are unsuccessful at making book on the horses, so they sell fake sweepstakes tickets to unsuspecting working class folk.

Directed by Howard Bretherton

The Actors: Russell Gleason (Bill Trent), Shirley Deane (Betty Madison), J.M. Kerrigan (Tom 'Pop' Madison), Maude Eburne (Mrs. Minnow), Oscar O'Shea (Pat Murphy), Ralph Harolde (Bartel), Selmer Jackson (Graham), Ray Bennett (Pussyfoot), Ralph Sanford (Joe Blake), Dick Elliott (Garrison, henchman), Lee Phelps (unknown), Walter Wills (unknown), Max Hoffman Jr. (unknown), Cliff Clark (Higgens, bartender).

 

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My only experience with funding gangsters was at my first real job after I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I was very young, and when I decided that selling life insurance in Youngstown, Ohio was not my cup of tea, I flipped a quarter to decide whether to move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or Cleveland, Ohio, both about an hour's drive from Youngstown. Cleveland won, and my young wife and I moved to Brooklyn, Ohio, one of Cleveland's inner ring suburbs. Until I found solid work we stayed with relatives there, and the first summer my brother-in-law Angelo got me work with the Greek painting company that he worked for. After the summer was over and I got laid off for the winter, another Greek friend found an almost steady job for me. The Greek fellow owned a restaurant on W. 25th street in Cleveland, and one of his steady breakfast customers was a big-wig at a drop forge. I got a job there that led to an apprenticeship as a 'blocker,' wrestling specialty steel and titanium into the rough shape that would then be re-heated and fed to the drop forge for final shaping. We forged parts for every space flight of that time, and forged large cam shafts and crank shafts for very large trucks, and landing gear for most large airplanes. It was hot and heavy work that only the young could endure or master, and I enjoyed facing the flames and heat every day and forcing hot metal into special shapes. I bought trousers and shirts at a second hand store in bulk, and always wore at least two pair of each, to guard against burns from flying sparks of hot metal. A pair of pants and shirt never lasted more than a week before it was so full of burn holes that I would discard it, and the 'under' pair of pants and shirt became the outside pair, with a new pair underneath. Why would anyone put up with a job like that? The money was fantastic, being three to four times what most middle class wage earners could bring home.

It was at this job that I gave some of my money to the local 'mob' or whatever they might have been referred to at that time. I do not remember his name, but there was a big fellow, he was 350 pounds at least, who sold everyone at the forge gambling tickets, and he got a small commission on everything that he sold. He sold a chance at a three digit daily number based on something that would appear in the next day's newspaper. During football season he always had betting slips with the college teams listed, and you could select two or more games to try and beat the listed spread. I've never been much of a sports fan, but I always kicked in a couple of bucks just so I wouldn't be 'different' - I wanted to be like all of the other workers, and this was just one more adventure into an unknown world. I never, ever won even a dollar from the tickets, but I never really expected to, so I was fine with that. I only worked there for about 3 years when the economy turned south and I was laid off. They called me back a couple of years later, but I had already started my career as a restaurant manager and declined the opportunity to return to the forge.

In this movie some local racketeers are losing money in their horse racing betting parlor, so they decide to print and sell phony sweepstakes tickets supposedly benefiting a children's charity in France. They are cleaning up as the tickets are quickly sold to the local working stiffs who are eager to wager a dollar on a possible fortune. Our hero works for the post office and helps crack the case, and of course his girlfriend and her father get mixed up in the adventure and there is danger a-plenty. Pop your white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter and watch a movie about racketeers selling phony lottery tickets that probably happened in real life more often that we'd like to believe.

Cliff ClarkCliff Clark and J.M. Kerrigan

Cliff Clark

Cliff Clark and J.M. Kerrigan
Dick ElliottDick Elliott and Ralf Harolde
Dick ElliottDick Elliott and Ralf Harolde
Dick Elliott and Ralph SanfordJ.M. Kerrigan
Dick Elliott and Ralph SanfordJ.M. Kerrigan
Maude Eburne and Shirley DeaneOscar O'Shea and J.M. Kerrigan
Maude Eburne and Shirley DeaneOscar O'Shea and J.M. Kerrigan
Oscar O'Shea and Ray BennettRussell Gleason
Oscar O'Shea and Ray BennettRussell Gleason
Russell Gleason and Ray BennettRussell Gleason and Shirley Deane
Russell Gleason and Ray BennettRussell Gleason and Shirley Deane
Selmer JacksonShirley Deane and Russell Gleason
Selmer JacksonShirley Deane and Russell Gleason
Shirley Deane and Russell Gleason - 1939
Shirley Deane and Russell Gleason in 1939