AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Riffraff
Alternate Title: The Amazing Mr. Hamer
Director: Ted Tetzlaff (Dir)
Release Date:   15 Sep 1947
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 28 Jun 1947; Los Angeles opening: 30 Jul 1947
Production Date:   10 Jun--late Jul 1946
Duration (in mins):   80
Duration (in feet):   7,208
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Pat O'Brien (Dan [Hammer])  
    Walter Slezak ([Eric] Molinar)  
    Anne Jeffreys (Maxine [Manning])  
    Percy Kilbride (Pop)  
    Jerome Cowan (Walter [F.] Gredson)  
    George Givot ([Lieutenant] Rues)  
    Jason Robards (Domingues)  
    Marc Krah ([Charles] Hasso)  
    Bonnie Blair (Woman at airport)  
    Drew Miller (Pilot)  
    Robert Anderson (Pilot)  
    Julian Rivero (Passenger agent)  
    Bob O'Connor (Taxi driver)  
    Fred Essler (Hernandez)  
    Tex Swan (Driver)  
    Alphonse Du Bois (Clerk)  
    Norbert Schiller (Goon)  
    Sammy Stein (Goon)  
    Hector Sarno (Pedro)  
    William Alland (Trumpie)  
    Dorothy McCarty (Singer)  
    Patt Hyatt (Singer)  
    Betty Hill (Singer)  
    Virginia Owen (Singer)  
    Alice Ludes (Singer)  
    Carmen Lopez (Hula dancer)  
    Lou Lubin (Rabbit)  
    Eduardo Noriega (Felice)  
    Italia De Nubila (Dancer)  
    Bob Mascagno (Dancer)  
    Al Murphy (Bartender)  
    Tom Noonan (Drunk)  
    Ernest Anderson (Wong)  
    Saul Z. Martell (Hotel clerk)  
    George Mendoza Mr. Marsh    
    Tom Coleman    
    Eddie Borden    
    Sam Lufkin    

Summary: During a storm-battered flight from Peru to Panama City, a man carrying a briefcase is suddenly pushed from the airplane by his fellow passenger, Charles Hasso. In Panama, Hasso, who tells the pilot that the man jumped, is questioned by police lieutenant Rues, but is not arrested. With the man's briefcase in hand, Hasso then goes to see Dan Hammer, a tough but resourceful American, and hires him as a temporary bodyguard. While the well-connected Dan is discussing the job with Hasso, he receives a telephone call from Walter F. Gredson, who offers him work. As Dan is readying to leave to meet Gredson, Hasso surreptiously pins a map to his office bulletin board. Gredson, the vice-president of an American oil company, and his associate, Domingues, confide in Dan that they have invested their company's money in some unregistered Peruvian oil wells and that the map showing the wells has been stolen. After revealing that they suspect a man named Charles Hasso of stealing the map, Gredson and Domigues offer Dan money to find Hasso. Without disclosing his previous meeting with Hasso, Dan happily accepts the assignment for $5,000. Later, at a nightclub, Dan meets attractive singer Maxine Manning, who goes out of her way to introduce herself and flirts openly with him. Dan also meets Eric Molinar, a visiting artist looking for a back street tour of Panama City. Dan refers Molinar to a friend, then goes to Hasso's hotel, but finds Hasso dead in his overflowing bathtub. Soon after, Dan is questioned by Rues, but reveals nothing about the map. Back at his office, which has been torn apart, Dan discovers an unconscious Maxine. When she recovers, Maxine declares Dan "dangerous company" and leaves. Maxine then goes to see Gredson, who turns out to be her boyfriend, and hides when Dan unexpectedly shows up demanding explanations. Gredson, who had enlisted Maxine to spy on Dan, insists he knows nothing about Hasso's murder and tells Dan he must find the map to collect his payment. On his way back to his office, Dan joins the departing Maxine in a taxi driven by Pop, his friend and protector, and gives her his special city tour. Later, Dan is visited by Molinar, who reveals that he, too, is looking for the map. When Dan deduces that the portly Molinar was responsible for the attack on his office, Molinar quickly offers to give him a percentage of the map's profits, but Dan beats him up and notifies the police. Because Dan has no proof, however, Rues is forced to let Molinar go, and Molinar soon returns to Dan's office with two thugs. On Molinar's orders, the thugs begin pummeling Dan, hoping he will reveal the map's whereabouts. By the next morning, Molinar gives up on the battered Dan, who is then comforted by a concerned Maxine. Furious, Dan confronts Gredson again, but once again Gredson denies any knowledge of Molinar. While Dan is at Gredson's, he notices a photograph of Maxine and goes to see her. Before Dan can question her, however, a scared Maxine confesses her relationship with Gredson, but says that she is leaving Panama to get away from him. Convinced of Maxine's affection, Dan plots with her to test Gredson by telling him that he has found the map. Gredson, meanwhile, is being intimidated by Molinar and agrees to join forces with him. When Molinar hears that Dan has the map, however, he has his thugs kill Gredson and then heads for Dan's office. There Molinar and his gun-wielding thugs confront Dan and Maxine, and during the ensuing mêlée, Maxine and Molinar both notice the map on the bulletin board and struggle to grab it. Molinar escapes with the map, but unwittingly jumps into Pop's cab and, while Dan follows on foot, is driven to the police station. After Rues arrests Molinar, Dan receives his $5,000 check and a kiss from Maxine. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Ted Tetzlaff (Dir)
  Leslie Urbach (Dial dir)
  Maxwell Henry (Asst dir)
Producer: Nat Holt (Prod)
  Jack J. Gross (Exec prod)
Writer: Martin Rackin (Orig scr)
Photography: George E. Diskant (Dir of photog)
  Emmett Bergholz (Cam op)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Walter E. Keller (Art dir)
Film Editor: Philip Martin (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Michael Orenbach (Set dec)
Costumes: Renié (Gowns)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Roy Webb (Mus)
Sound: John E. Tribby (Sd)
  Terry Kellum (Sd)
Special Effects: Russell A. Cully (Spec eff)
Country: United States

Songs: "Money Is the Root of All Evil," words and music by Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer.
Composer: Alex Kramer
  Joan Whitney

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 28/6/1947 dd/mm/yyyy LP1148

PCA NO: 11795
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Film noir
 
Subjects (Major): Americans in foreign countries
  Bodyguards
  Maps
  Murder
  Panama City (Panama)
  Romance
  Singers
 
Subjects (Minor): Airplanes
  Artists
  Betrayal
  Deception
  Fights
  Flirtation
  Hotels
  Nightclubs
  Oil companies
  Peru
  Police
  Taxicab drivers
  Torture

Note: The working title of this film was The Big Angle . The title then was changed from The Big Angle to Riffraff to Mr. Fix , then back to Riffraff , then to The Amazing Mr. Hammer and back again to Riffraff . With this film, Ted Tetzlaff, who was a well-known cinematographer, returned to feature directing after a six-year absence. Tetzlaff and a camera crew took background shots for the picture in Panama, according to HR . HR announced that eighteen-year-old Marilyn Budgeon, who worked as a messenger at RKO, was to play a messenger in this picture under the name Marilyn Messenger, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Var gives the film's running time as 70 minutes, but this is probably an error. According to modern sources, Pat O'Brien liked Martin Rackin's script so much that he arranged for Rackin to be hired as a staff writer at RKO. Rackin went on to write three more scripts at RKO for O'Brien-- Fighting Father Dunne and Race Street in 1948, and A Dangerous Profession in 1949 (see above entries). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   14 Jun 1947.   
Daily Variety   4 Jun 1947.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Feb 46   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Apr 46   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jun 46   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jul 46   p. 6, 14
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jul 46   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jul 46   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Sep 46   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Jun 47   p. 4.
Independent Film Journal   22 Jun 46   p. 39.
Los Angeles Daily News   31 Jul 1947.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   14 Jun 1947.   
New York Times   30 Jun 47   p. 25.
Variety   11 Jun 47   p. 8.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.