Released in 1955: (running time 1 hour and 25 minutes) After the war an electronics genius helps syndicated crime stay two steps ahead of the law.
Produced by J.D. Kendis
Directed by Dick Ross
Written by Jim Vaus Jr. from his autobiography "Why I Quit Syndicated Crime" with screenplay by John O'Dea and sermon by Billy Graham
The Actors: Bill Williams (Jim Vaus Jr.), Georgia Lee (Alice Park Vaus), Douglas Kennedy (Charles Rumsden), Phil Tead (Postman Mr. Wiggins), Stanley Clements (Tony), Ric Roman (Nick Castro), Richard Benedict (Romato), Paul Picerni (Herbie), Steve Conti (henchman), Melinda Plowman (Helen Park, kid sister), Martin Benedict (unknown), Nick Benedict (unknown), Brunella Bovo (unknown, listed as Barbara Hudson in the movie credits), Evangeline Carmichael (unknown), Art Gilmore (narrator), Dorothy Kennedy (unknown), Donald Kerr (bookie), Howard Wendell (prison chaplain), Billy Graham (himself)
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The Gang's All Here
One of the all-time best movies I have seen, in my humble opinion, is the 1973 crime thriller 'The Sting' with Robert Redford. The plot revolves around electronically delaying the results of a horse race in a bookie joint. This movie portrays the true story of Jim Vaus Jr. - an electronics expert who discovered a way to delay the teletype results of horse races for the Mickey Cohen syndicate in Los Angeles.
Jim Vaus Jr. got deeply involved with Los Angeles mobsters and almost lost his life when he tried to turn over a new leaf and quit the mob. They promised him that the only way out was in a coffin, and they tried to make good on that threat, but Jim Vaus Jr. had a bit of help that the mobsters had no idea about.
The real Jim Vaus Jr. was deeply involved with the Mickey Cohen crime syndicate and wrote the book that this movie is based on, but most of the names were changed in the movie to protect the guilty. In this movie portrayal he and his wife visit a Billy Graham tent meeting, but in real life His he heard the Reverend Billy Graham on the radio one night, and decided to go straight and quit the mob.
One of the things that Billy Graham once said is, "When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost."
Jim Vaus had a pipeline to plenty of cash, and had good health, but not the character that he wanted. You can find out more about Jim Vaus Jr. at spybusters.com, or even listen to Jim Vaus himself from a recording made in 1962: Jim Vaus - Wiretapper - An Oral History . . . or . . . you can pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with lots of warm melted butter on it and enjoy his story right here!
Bill Williams and Howard Wendell
Bill Williams and Ric Roman
Bill Williams as Jim Vaus in the movie Wiretapper
Bill Williams as Jim Vaus Jr.
The Reverend Billy Graham from his 1949 Los Angeles crusade
Douglas Kennedy and Ric Roman
Douglas Kennedy as Charles Rumsden
Douglas Kennedy in Wiretapper
Georgia Lee and Bill Williams
Georgia Lee as Alice Park Vaus
Howard Wendell as prison Chaplain
Melinda Plowman, Georgia Lee and Bill Williams
Paul Picerni as Herbie
Phil Tead and Georgia Lee
Phil Tead as postman Wiggins
Reverend Billy Graham preaching in Los Angeles in 1949
Ric Roman and Douglas Kennedy
Richard Benedict as Romato
Stanley Clements, Douglas Kennedy and Paul Picerni
Stanley Clements as gangster Tony