Mister 880 (1950): Goulding’s Fable, Starring Burt Lancaster and Edmund Gwenn

Based on a true story, Edmund Goulding’s Mister 880 is the whimsical tale of an elderly gentleman named Skipper Miller (Edmund Gwenn), who dabbles in counterfeiting.

Miller makes only enough “funny money” to support himself, but he’s an amateur–he can’t even spell “Washington”—which makes the treasury department.

Burt Lancaster plays Steve Buchanan, the hard-nosed treasury agent put on the case, is determined to prosecute the miscreant to the full extent of the law.

Lancaster falls in love with Ann Winslow (Dorothy McGuire), a recipient of one of the phony bills. Lancaster discovers that McGuire lives in the same building as Gwenn, and after piecing together the clues arrests the old fellow. Touched by Miller’s naivete, the couple arranges for a compassionate lawyer to lessen his punishment.

Originally, Mister 880 cast Walter Huston as the ingenuous counterfeiter, but Huston died just before shooting began.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Supporting Actor: Edmund Gwenn

Oscar Context:

The winner was George Sanders for All About Eve

Running time: 90 Minutes

Directed By:  Edmund Goulding

Released:  September 29, 1950

Twentieth Century Fox