Money Madness (April 15, 1948)
Released April 15, 1948: Hugh Beaumont is a killer that controls a young girl to achieve his evil intentions.
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by Al Martin.
The Actors: Hugh Beaumont (Steve Clark/Freddie Howard), Frances Rafferty (Julie Saunders), Harlan Warde (Donald Harper), Cecil Weston (Aunt Cora), Ida Moore (Mrs. Ferguson), Danny Morton (Rogers), Joel Friedkin (Mr. Wagner), Lane Chandler (policeman), Dick Elliott (malt shop customer), Don C. Harvey (drunk in cab).
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Hugh Beaumont . . . Ward Cleaver, little Beaver Cleaver's All-American Dad from the 1950's television show, 'Leave it to Beaver.' How could we find a nicer role model or leading man for a movie? Well, in this movie he is a real stinker - a psycopathic bank robber and killer that plays the part of one of the most evil men you will ever see. Pop a big bowl of white-kernel popcorn and drizzle lots of warm, melted butter on it, with a sprinkle of salt, and sit next to someone you trust . . . someone you REALLY trust . . . as you watch a real madman as he manipulates his way through this evil tale of greed and malice.
As our movie opens, we see Julie being sentenced to prison for something, and then we see Hugh Beaumont is getting off of a bus in a small town where he goes to a local bank and purchases a safe deposit box. He tells the banker that his name is Steve Clark, but later we discover that his real name is Freddie Howard. We watch as he enters a private room with his box and places lots of money inside. He then goes up the street to an employment agency and gets a job as a taxi driver. He still looks like a kind and gentle man. Next we watch him as he drives his cab, and stops at the curb in front of a local restaurant to pick up a man that is flagging him down. The man goes back into the restaurant and escorts his date back out to the cab, and they get in. The man, very drunk, gives the driver his home address and Steve takes off with his passengers in the back. The drunk passenger starts making advances at the girl, and she asks the cabbie to take her home instead. This leads to that, and Steve the nice cab driver stops his cab and gets the drunk out, then takes the nice girl Julie to a local coffee shop for some coffee and chat. Steve has intentions for Julie also, but he is much more suave than the drunk was, and Julie falls for him.
Next we meet Julie's aunt Cora, an old-maid spinster that Julie lives with since her parents died. Cora tries to keep Julie at home, fearing that if she meets the right man she will leave her aunt all alone, and Cora will do anything to prevent that. So when Julie and Steve start dating, crabby Aunt Cora does all she can to put a stop to it. When Steve discovers that Aunt Cora is a controlling witch, he calmly decides on a plan to poison Aunt Clara, and then plant the huge fortune he stole from his gangster partners after a big bank robbery in the attic, so that they can openly spend the money without suspicion. But after Aunt Cora dies, the lawyer advising Julie on probating the estate is handsome Donald Harper. He doesn't know Julie is married to Steve, and he tries to put the moves on her, but she is trapped with our demented killer Steve. The screenwriters skillfully write a plot between these three characters that will positively keep you on the very edge of your seat as you choke down your buttered popcorn while waiting for the next convoluted twist in this quickly evolving noir thriller about gangsters and small-town good folks that get tangled up in one fine mess.