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The Clay Pigeon (1949)

Jim Fletcher, waking up from a coma, finds he is to be given a court martial for treason and charged with informing on fellow inmates in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Escaping from ... See full summary »


Richard Fleischer (as Richard O. Fleischer)


Carl Foreman (story and screenplay)


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Director: Jack Bernhard
Stars: Preston Foster, Belita, Pierre Watkin


Complete credited cast:
Bill Williams ... Jim Fletcher
Barbara Hale ... Martha Gregory
Richard Quine ... Ted Niles
Richard Loo ... Ken Tokoyama - aka The Weasel
Frank Fenton ... Lt. Cmdr. Prentice
Frank Wilcox ... Dr. Matson - Navy Hospital Doctor
Marya Marco Marya Marco ... Mrs. Helen Minoto (as Mary Marco)
Robert Bray ... Gunsel Blake
Martha Hyer ... Miss Harwick - Wheeler's Receptionist
Harold Landon Harold Landon ... Danny - Blind Veteran in Hospital
James Craven James Craven ... John D. Wheeler
Grandon Rhodes ... Naval Intelligence Agent Clark


Jim Fletcher, waking up from a coma, finds he is to be given a court martial for treason and charged with informing on fellow inmates in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Escaping from the hospital he tries to clear himself by enlisting the aid of Martha Gregory, widow of a service buddy he was accused of informing on. Helped also by Ted Niles, a surviving fellow prisoner, he gets closer to finding the answers he needs, and becomes ensnared in a grandiose scheme involving his Japanese ex-prison guard, $10,000,000 of US currency forged by the Japanese and a burgeoning crime network poised to wreak havoc throughout southern California. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Film-Noir


C | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 October 1949 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Acusado a traición See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


While featuring Richard Loo as a Japanese villain worthy of World War II propaganda, the film also tries to achieve some balance by including a sympathetic Japanese-American war widow played by Marya Marco whose husband was a member of the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team. See more »


When the train is shown leaving Los Angeles with "The Weasle" on board, it has a Pennsylvania Railroad logo on the nose of the locomotive. The Pennsylvania did not serve the west coast - this was obviously stock footage. See more »


Lt. Cmdr. Prentice: [after the bad guys have been captured] ... fortunately you've been of considerable service to the Treasury Department.
Jim Fletcher: I don't understand.
Lt. Cmdr. Prentice: Well, after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese expected to invade the West Coast. They printed one hundred million dollars worth of American money. Somehow, Tokoyama stumbled into a cache of part of this. Some ten million dollars. And, when he and Niles ran into each other in Japan after our forces came in, they went into business together.
Jim Fletcher: [astounded] Ten million ...
See more »

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User Reviews

Too Many Plot Devices
9 February 2011 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Starts off well as amnesiac vet (Williams) is chased by mysterious forces including not so mysterious Naval Intelligence. Now he's got to unravel the puzzle before it catches up to him. Good thing he gets help from dead buddy's wife (Hale). That chase sequence from San Diego to LA is particularly well done, and in good noirish fashion. Then too, the fight in Hale's apartment almost had me yelling for help. Only a devoted married couple like Williams and Hale could make it so physically realistic. However, once events locate in LA, the story settles into a more familiar pattern.

Unfortunately, a compromised script prevents the promising start from reaching front rank. Paradoxically, the screenplay is from ace writer Carl Foreman (High Noon; Bridge on the River Kwai, et al). I can only surmise that the brief running time (63-minutes) and a tight B-movie shooting schedule forced him to compromise the narrative in implausible fashion. For example—Hale's quick turnaround with escaped fugitive Williams, especially when she thinks he's responsible for her husband's death; the chance encounter with Japanese ex-prison guard Richard Loo; the cops unexplained boarding of the train in the middle of nowhere when they planned to wait in Glendale; but most of all, the angelic mother who allows a fugitive stranger she's just let in the door to hide in the same room as her infant son.

These devices may expedite the plot, but they also come across as just that, plot devices-- too many, in my view, for what is also a pretty dense narrative. At the same time, guessing the mystery's real culprit becomes pretty easy, thereby undermining the suspense. Also, director Fleischer shows little of the personal engagement that distinguishes his other noirs. All in all, the movie adds up to an average programmer that unfortunately promises more than it delivers.

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