Southside 1-1000 (1950)

Film Review

SOUTHSIDE 1-1000

Release Date: 12 November, 1950

Studio: Allied Artists

Director: Boris Ingster

Starring: Don DeFore, Andrea King, George Tobias

Synopsis

A documentary-style narrator explains the importance of the dollar to international finance and the US economy. The narration continues with a description of the function of the US Secret Service. The Secret Service defends the value of the dollar by finding and arresting counterfeiters who may otherwise flood the country with phony bills. Live action begins. The scene opens on a prisoner in a cell; the man, an expert engraver, is engraving plates. He uses an unsuspecting priest to smuggle his plates out of the prison. The plates pass to counterfeiters who are soon releasing phony ten-dollar bills throughout the country.

Secret Service agent DeFore searches for the source of the counterfeit bills. He identifies a traveling salesman who distributes the bills, but Tobias kills the suspect before the ultimate source of the phony bills can be located. The salesman rented a hotel room in Los Angeles, and DeFore moves into the hotel. He poses as a thief and an agent for passing counterfeit bills. He learns that King is the leader of the criminal ring. The counterfeiters find out that DeFore is a Secret Service agent and attempt to kill him. The arrival of Secret Service agents and police saves DeFore and starts a shootout with the criminals. During the fight, King, trying to escape, falls to her death off a bridge, and the other criminals are either captured or killed. The plates and counterfeiting equipment are seized.

Discussion

Semi-documentary style was popular in low-budget crime films (T-Men, 1947, Walk a Crooked Mile, 1948) during the post war era. Typically, the film begins with a voice-over narrator who describes the type of crime and the government agency that investigates it. The narration is portentous and very patriotic. Initially, the action tracks the course of the investigation. Midway, suspense takes over the story line as the undercover agent faces the peril of discovery by the murderous criminal gang.

Although not a superior example of the genre, Southside 1-1000 has an interesting plot and smooth narrative flow. The viewer is gripped by considerable tension during the scenes in which Don DeFore is menaced by the criminals. DeFore was a pleasant leading man who had too few starring opportunities. Photogenic Andrea King adds a touch of the femme fatale. George Tobias appeared so frequently in comical supporting roles that it is rather shocking to see him as a vicious murderer.