MONEY MADNESS. Film Classics, 1948. Hugh Beaumont, Frances Rafferty, Harlan Warde, Cecil Weston. Screenwriter: Al Martin. Director: Sam Newfield (as Peter Stewart).

   There is a small but elite set of noir films that begin with a man getting off a bus (or train) with only a suitcase. The town is usually in warmer climes, and all he owns is likely to be in the suitcase, but that’s not a absolute requirement. It doesn’t take him long to find a girl, perhaps working in a small diner, night club or roadhouse on the outskirts of town.

   In this case, however, before he meets the girl, he puts most of the contents of the suitcase into a bank safety deposit box: $200,000 in cash. We the viewer are suspicious immediately, but not the girl, who is as tired of slinging hash as she is of living with a crabby old aunt. So weary of life as she is living it as to be swept off her feet and be married only two days later.

   Which is when the man (Hugh Beaumont) lets the girl (Frances Rafferty) what he has in mind to do with the aunt, and how he plans to launder the money, although I am not sure that’s a word that was in common use in 1948.

   As the naive young woman, Frances Rafferty is perhaps a little too naive and too willing to go along with the other’s plan, but Hugh Beaumont as the man with the plan is a revelation as someone who can go in only a split second from a sweet-talking lover to a tough and out-and-out cad who won’t take no for an answer, and in no uncertain terms, lets his new bride know it.

   It was a different era when men could dominate women this way, or is it? The story is taut and well-structured with only one caveat, and the minimal amount of money that was able to be spent on production fits in perfectly with the dinginess of life of the less than middle class in 1948.

   The caveat? It’s too late now, but I’ve have told the producers of the film to drop the opening scene altogether. It doesn’t fit, no way no how. They’d have been far better off starting with man getting off the bus, which is where the movie begins anyway. Watch the film for yourself and see if you don’t agree.