BrianRxm Coins in Movies 7/122
The Brasher Doubloon (1947)
The legendary coin and some French coins
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The 1947 Twentieth Century Fox film "The Brasher Doubloon" is about the theft of a very rare coin.
 
The film uses a replica of a Brasher Doubloon and also shows coin catalog photographs of the coin.
 
The film is based on Raymond Chandler's 1942 novel "The High Window" and is set in Los Angeles.
 
The film stars George Montgomery as detective Philip Marlowe and Nancy Guild as Merle Davis.
The coin counterfeiting sub-plot of the novel was not used in this film.
 
Brasher Doubloons are extremely rare gold coins privately produced around 1787 by New York goldsmith
Ephraim Brasher who wanted to get a contract to operate the mint for the new United States government.
 
Authentic Brasher Doubloon's were worth around $10,000 to collectors in 1942, according to the novel.
They are worth more now, one sold for $4,500,000 in January 2014.
Brasher Doubloon
1. Title
 
The coin used as a background in the film titles and as a prop is a replica;
supposedly many were made over the years.
 
Brasher Doubloon
2. Detective Philip Marlowe drives up to this creepy house
 
Marlowe meets Merle Davis, secretary and general assistant to wealthy Mrs. Murdock.
He has been hired out of the telephone book to find a rare coin belonging to Mrs. Murdock.
 
Brasher Doubloon
3. Marlowe meets Merle
 
Merle has some problems of her own, including being treated badly by her employer.
 
Brasher Doubloon
4. Marlowe meets Mrs. Murdock
 
Mrs. Murdock is a nasty wealthy woman who hires Marlowe to find a missing rare coin.
The coin belonged to Mrs. Murdock's late husband and disappeared from a safe,
which only she, Merle, and her wastrel son Leslie had access to.
Mrs. Murdock denies that her son took the coin.
 
Mrs. Murdock found the coin missing when a coin dealer called her and asked her if she
was selling her coin as someone offered it to him.
"It's worth at least $10,000".
 
Merle shows Marlowe a coin tray with coins in it.
 
Brasher Doubloon
5. Murdock coin collection tray
 
The coin labels are for French coins (except for the Brasher Doubloon) and read:
 
Hercules 1873 / 5 Francs
 
Louis Phillippe 1792 / 5 Francs
Brasher Doubloon 1797
Louis Phillippe 1844 / 1 Franc
 
Louis Phillippe 1830 / Un Franc
Napoleon III 1856 / Dix Centimes
Republique FR 1881 / 5 Francs
 
A French Napoleon III silver coin is prominent in the space labeled "Louis Philippe 1792".
 
Marlowe gets to work, and the first item is to visit the coin dealer, Elisha Morningstar.
He looks in the telephone directory.
 
Brasher Doubloon
6. Marlowe looks in a telephone directory
 
Marlowe goes to visit the dealer, whose office is in downtown Los Angeles.
 
Brasher Doubloon
7. Marlowe approaches the office door
 
There is nice old fashioned lettering on the door.
 
Brasher Doubloon
8. Coin dealer with magnifying glass
 
Moringstar tells Marlowe a little about the Brasher Doubloon, including that the maker
and seven owners met unhappy ends.
 
Oh, yes the Brasher Doubloon.
An early American coin, extremely interesting and valuable.
Why?
Because it's rare. And because it has a romantic and violent history.
It has? I hadn't heard.
The man who coined it was murdered and robbed through the treachery of a female.
And since then at least seven other owners of the coin have come to abrupt unhappy ends.
Wouldn't that tend to drag down the price a little?
Oh, no! On the contrary, a history of violence attached to an art object makes the more
frantic type of collector all the more eager to own it.
 
Brasher Doubloon
9. Coin dealer's office
 
Interesting view of a 1940's coin dealer's office and shop.
These kind of offices existed until the 1960's in large cities.
 
Marlowe meets another detective working on the case, later he obtains a storage locker tag
which he uses to claim a small package.
He goes to a telephone booth to open the package and finds the coin.
 
Brasher Doubloon
10. Marlowe in telephone booth after finding coin
 
Here we get a view of both sides of the replica prop coin used in the film.
The coin has an eagle on one side and a mountain on the other side.
 
Brasher Doubloon
11. Brasher Doubloon coin eagle side
 
Brasher Doubloon
12. Brasher Doubloon coin mountain side
 
Marlowe returns to the dealer's office and finds the dealer dead and his shop ransacked.
 
Brasher Doubloon
13. Coin dealer on floor
 
Marlowe contacts Mrs. Murdock who tells him that her coin has been returned.
She has realized that her son stole the coin.
 
Marlowe visits her and shows her the coin that he has.
 
Brasher Doubloon
14. A closer view of the Brasher Doubloon
 
Mrs. Murdock then orders Merle to get the coin from Marlowe, "use what you've got, child".
 
A sleazy gentleman named Vannier, a former film cameraman, comes to Marlowe's office.
Vannier explains that he is a coin collector and that the coin is his.
Vannier tries using a gun on Marlowe.
 
Brasher Doubloon
15. Vannier wants the coin
 
Marlowe overpowers and takes the gun from Vannier.
This character appears to be similar to the Peter Lorre character in "The Maltese Falcon".
 
Marlowe has been keeping the coin in his pipe tobacco pouch, and takes it out to look at it.
 
Brasher Doubloon
16. Pipe tobacco case storage
 
Would this cause "tobacco toning"?
 
Marlowe leaves his office and heads to his apartment, finding Merle there.
She explains that Vannier was blackmailing Mrs. Murdock about something.
 
Brasher Doubloon
17. Merle is wearing a nice dress
 
Merle starts working on Marlowe to get the coin.
 
Brasher Doubloon
18. Merle tries to get the coin one way
 
This doesn't work with Marlowe, and she tries another way.
 
Brasher Doubloon
19. Merle tries another way
 
Marlowe gets the gun away from Merle and then leaves.
 
Outside his apartment, he is kidnapped by gangsters who also want the coin.
The take him to their hangout for an "enhanced interrogation",
 
Marlowe sees Mrs. Murdock's son Leslie is with the gangsters.
 
Brasher Doubloon
20. Marlowe's view of the gangsters
 
Marlowe escapes from the gangsters, finds Merle, and they head for Vannier's apartment.
The pair search the apartment and find Vannier's body, a small coin collection.
 
Brasher Doubloon
21. Marlowe finds Vannier's coin collection tray
 
They also find a roll of film.
 
Leslie Murdock shows up and enters Vannier's house.
 
Brasher Doubloon
22. Leslie Murdock arrives
 
He is wearing the hairstyle and suit favored by late 1940's hipsters.
 
Marlowe overpowers Leslie and takes his gun, then Marlowe and Merle head for his apartment.
The police arrive and they have brought the gangsters with them.
 
Brasher Doubloon
23. The gangsters at Marlowe's apartment
 
Mrs. Murdock then arrives and demands her coin.
 
Marlowe has set up a projector and runs Vannier's film, which identifies another killer.
Vannier had been photographing the Pasadena Rose Parade, he accidently filmed Mrs. Murdock
pushing her husband out a window, and has been blackmailing her ever since.
 
The police arrest the gangsters and Mrs. Marlowe and all leave except Marlowe and Merle.
 
Brasher Doubloon
24. Merle gets her man
 
Brasher Doubloon
25. The End
 
Notes:
 
Cast:
George Montgomery as Philip Marlowe
Nancy Guild as Merle Davis
Conrad Janis as Leslie Murdock
Florence Bates as Mrs. Elizabeth Murdock
Marvin Miller as Vince Blair
 
Director: John Brahm
Writers: Dorothy Bennett, Leonard Praskins, Raymond Chandler (novel)
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