Cast & Crew
With the help of his accomplices, condemned murderer Max Brant escapes from the French police and flies to Surrey, England with his cohort Duke where ex-forger Louie Bernard owns a secluded manor house. Louie, whose daughter Carol is an art student in Italy, lives quietly with Gerta, who is his non-English-speaking housekeeper, and a part-time man who does odd jobs. Having kept his past a secret from family and acquaintances, he prefers to remain in "retirement," but Max convinces him to set up a counterfeit operation in his cellar. Max remains nervous about Gerta, who appears to be distrustful of the men's presence, even though she is not allowed in the cellar or told about the plans. When police investigate reports that a private plane landed nearby, Louie pretends to cooperate with them, while Max and Duke hide. Later, while Louie begins the intricate work of creating plates and mixing inks, Duke sees to the equally difficult process of making paper for bills, aiming to get the right color, weight and texture. Needing a means of distributing the counterfeit money once it is made, Max meets with ex-convict businessman Harry Flint who introduces the group to Sam Watson, a former policeman he met in prison when both were serving time for corruption. Sam, Harry and Max set up a legitimate printing company as a front for their illegal activities and appoint Louie their director. Through their connections, the group learns that a truck filled with unstamped £5 currency paper will be driving through the vicinity. After hijacking the shipment, they unload the paper and set fire to the empty truck in a field several miles away. As Max had planned, police and newspapers speculate that the robbers had intended to rob a whisky truck, and, upon discovering their mistake, destroyed the vehicle and its contents. Although the acquisition of genuine paper simplifies the counterfeiters' task, the aging Louie finds that his hands are no longer steady, thus the plates he makes are of poor quality. Carol, wanting to discuss an important matter with Louie in person, leaves school and appears at the manor without calling ahead. Carol's arrival causes Louie to reconsider the counterfeiting scheme, as he does not want her to know about his past. However, after Max reminds him of the money to be made, Louie shows Carol the cellar and tells her that he was a forger for the Allies during the war and afterward, partnered with Max, in an illegal operation. Meanwhile, Max discovers that Carol is a skilled and talented artist, and forces Louie to teach her the forgery business. Carol, who is expected back at school, suggests to her father that they escape and alert the police. However, Max walks in while they are talking and, after a stern warning, forbids her to return to school. As part of his plan, Max tries to enlist some corrupt businessmen in their scheme to distribute bills. One of the men, Wandelman, feigns a lack of enthusiasm upon hearing the plans. While the men are at the meeting, Carol receives a call from her boyfriend, Bob Fenton, who is at the London airport. He has followed her from Italy, impatient to know if she has told Louie about their plans to marry. Although Carol loves him, she is so shamed by her father's illegal activities that she breaks up with him. Carol then travels to London and, after going to Bob's hotel room, phones Louie. Unaware that Max is listening on the other end of the line, Carol instructs her father to meet her at Bob's hotel. Proceeding to London, Max announces that Louie sent him to take Carol home, then insinuating that he has a relationship with Carol, he beats up Bob. Once the counterfeit bills are completed, the ring makes an experimental distribution to areas of London, Sussex and Brighton, where some shopkeepers notice that their tills at the end of the day have taken in an unusually large percentage of "fivers." After the bills are determined to be forgeries on genuine paper, the police link the counterfeiters to the theft of the paper truck. A police inspector investigating the forgery narrows his search to areas near where the truck was stolen and destroyed. Max, pleased with the experimental distribution, again calls the men together for a private boxing match, after which he gives new instructions for the next drop, which will cover all of England and Scotland. Wandelman skips the meeting to sneak into Louie's cellar and check out the equipment. Vik, one of Max's thugs, discovers Wandelman, who is clearly planning a double-cross, and kills him. Meanwhile, mystified by Carol's behavior, Bob comes to the village and learns that Louie's grocery and liquor bill has significantly increased without an obvious reason. He comes to the house to see Carol, but, fearing for his safety, she tells him to leave. Later, Max forces himself on Carol, but Gerta interrupts him, allowing Carol to escape. During the night, after completing the last of 200,000 bills, Louie visits Carol in her room, where she is secretly packing. Angry with her father for his involvement with Max, she tells him to ask Gerta what happened. Early in the morning, after taking a walk around his estate and finding Gerta dead in the moat, Louie, repulsed by the murder and attack on Carol, sneaks into the village. While trying to escape, Carol is caught by Max's men who bring her back home. Meanwhile, Duke meets with the "distributors" at a remote spot to deliver the bills. The inspector, whose investigation is slowly making progress, receives a brief, anonymous note, with one of the counterfeit bills enclosed. Although the inspector would like more time to work quietly on the case, the police commissioner orders him to warn the public about the counterfeit ring and news reports are broadcast throughout the country. When Max learns that someone tipped off the police, Louie, who mailed the note when he sneaked into the village, admits to sending it. After knocking out Louie, Max and Duke begin packing up and arrange to rendezvous with a private plane to escape. Before they can get away, Louie awakens and holding the men at gunpoint, orders Carol to run. In the ensuing shootout, Louie shoots Vik, but is then wounded by Max. As she flees along the road, Carol encounters Bob, who, after hearing her story, flags down a car to alert the police. Returning with Carol to the house, Bob knocks out one of the men. Max shoots at Bob, but when he runs out of bullets, he jumps in a jeep with Duke and escapes. After arriving, the police are directed by Carol to chase after Max and Duke, who, while speeding around a hairpin turn on the narrow country road, swerve to avoid an oncoming car and drive over a cliff, meeting their death in a fiery crash below.
Alec C. Snowden
Charles F. Vetter Jr.
The working title for the film was One Man's Secret. The opening and closing cast credits vary in order. Amalgamated Productions, Ltd. was jointly owned by New York City-based producers Richard Gordon and Charles F. Vetter, Jr. Although American reviews list the running time of the film between 79-80 minutes, the British publication Monthly Film Bulletin reported that the film's duration when it was released in Britain was 87 minutes. Peggie Castle's name was erroneously spelled "Jeggie" in the Variety review. Her character's name was spelled "Carole" on a signed painting in the film, but it is appears as "Carol" in the end credits. The Monthly Film Bulletin review spelled the name of the character played by Zachary Scott as "Brandt," but in the film, the name is spelled in a newspaper as "Brant."
The Counterfeit Plan was shot entirely in England. The stately home owned by "Louie Bernard" was identified in a telegram shown during the film as "Loseley Park" and, according to studio production notes found in the files for the film at the Warner Bros. Archives at the USC Cinema-Television Library, that was the name of the real manor house in Guildford, Surrey that was used as a shooting location site. The central train station in Brighton appears briefly in the film.
Documents in the Warner Bros. production file stated that music by composer Trevor Duncan was used in the film. A March 1957 Los Angeles Mirror reported that an uncredited technical advisor for the film, who remained anonymous, had served a ten-year sentence for forgery in England's Parkhurst Prison. According to studio production notes, Horace Lindrum, who appears in the film giving a demonstration, was a world champion snooker player and popular sports personality. Jack Doyle, who appeared with the racketeers in the film, was a boxer in real life.
Letters in the file for the film at the Warner Bros. Archive and July 1956 Daily Variety production charts reported that the film was expected to commence shooting around July 9, 1956 for approximately twelve days over four weeks, and that Faith Domergue was in the cast. However, Hollywood Reporter production charts for the film are dated between 5 October-November 2, 1956 and Domergue was not in the final film. It is likely that she was replaced by Castle.
According to a Warner Bros. inter-office communication found in the film's file at the Warner Bros. Archive, The Counterfeit Plan's first public exhibition was at the Astoria on Charing Cross Rd. in London on January 17, 1957. A Warner Bros. memo, dated April 9, 1957, reported that the film had been taken out of national release and would be given a new release in the future.
According to letters in the file, Warner Bros. and Warwick Productions protested the title of a proposed Columbia film, The Counterfeit Spy, claiming the title was too similar to their film's title. However, no further information about The Counterfeit Spy has been found. A modern source adds Alvar Lidell to the cast as a "newsreader" on a radio broadcast.