Pleasant comedy about an inept counterfeiter who passes phony one dollar bills. Among other mistakes the bills have the word Washington misspelled. He’s been getting away with it for ten years. The secret service brings in an agent from L.A. to New York to try and catch him.
William Miller aka/The Skipper (Edmund Gwenn) is a junk dealer. He sells a model of a spinning wheel to his neighbor Ann Winslow (Dorothy McGuire). He tells her he’ll keep looking for its mate. He charges three bucks. She gives him five. He slips two dollars change in her purse.
When he goes back to his place a vet who cured his dog is waiting. Skipper owes him twenty bucks. He doesn’t have it but says he’ll get it from his rich Cousin Henry. Cousin Henry is a small printing press where Skipper makes his phony bills.
The next day agent Steve Buchanan (Burt Lancaster) gets a lead. Someone has passed a phony bill. It was Ann. Steve and his partner Mac McIntire trail her to the lobby of the UN. She passes another phony when buying a paper. She speaks to a man and Steve bumps into him so he can remember him. Turns out Ann is a French interpreter at the UN.
Steve and Mac work out a scam so Steve can introduce himself to Ann. He takes her out for some drinks. It doesn’t take long for her to find out what’s going on and plays a trick of her own. When all that’s straightened out romance blooms.
Steve sees a pattern of where the bills have been passed and he and Mac stake out an automat. They don’t know it but Skipper passes a phony right in front of Mac. The next plan is to keep an eye out at Coney Island. Steve joins Ann, Skipper and some neighborhood kids to Coney Island as a cover. The next day at the office Steve is told a man (Herb Vigran) who runs the guess your weight concession at Coney Island got a phony bill and can ID the man who passed it to him. He points the finger at Steve. The hunt continues.
Cards are printed up showing neighborhood merchants how to spot a phone one dollar bill. The Skipper spots a card and goes home and buries Uncle Henry. Steve’s boss wants him to go to France and bring down a big gang of counterfeiters. He accepts and asks Ann to go with him. Skipper sells Ann the mate to the spinning wheel. Same deal as before. He charges three bucks. She gives him a five. He gives her two bucks change. Uh-Oh.
Steve tells her he’s decided he can’t take the case in France. He’s determined to bring down Mister 880. He tells Ann when he catches him he’ll get the maximum fifteen years in jail.
It all comes to the predictable Aw Shucks ending but it is well worth watching. You’ll spot Larry Keating as lawyer James F.Lee. TV fans know him as Harry Morton on “The George Burns And Gracie Allen Show” (1953-59) and Roger Addison on “Mister Ed” (1961-63).