I Was a Shoplifter (1950)

74 mins | Drama | 12 April 1950

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HISTORY

The film's working title was Shoplifter . It begins with a voice-over narration stating that shoplifting costs stores $100 million every year. The narration adds that nine of ten shoplifters are women, and ten percent are professionals. Drug users account for most of the loss, according to the narrator. An Oct 1949 HR news item notes that Andrea King replaced Alexis Smith in the lead role. On 30 Apr 1950, NYT reported that the film had been banned in Atlanta, GA because censor Christine Smith deemed it a "course in shoplifting." Nothing in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms this, but a letter dated 25 Oct 1949 from censor William Gordon to PCA director Joseph I. Breen states: "We still have considerable apprehension over the details of shoplifiting. This concern is particularly brought about by the action...showing the operation of the Booster box and the use of the Booster bloomers....You will remember the Code prohibits the showing of details of crime which can be easily ... More Less

The film's working title was Shoplifter . It begins with a voice-over narration stating that shoplifting costs stores $100 million every year. The narration adds that nine of ten shoplifters are women, and ten percent are professionals. Drug users account for most of the loss, according to the narrator. An Oct 1949 HR news item notes that Andrea King replaced Alexis Smith in the lead role. On 30 Apr 1950, NYT reported that the film had been banned in Atlanta, GA because censor Christine Smith deemed it a "course in shoplifting." Nothing in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms this, but a letter dated 25 Oct 1949 from censor William Gordon to PCA director Joseph I. Breen states: "We still have considerable apprehension over the details of shoplifiting. This concern is particularly brought about by the action...showing the operation of the Booster box and the use of the Booster bloomers....You will remember the Code prohibits the showing of details of crime which can be easily imitated." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Apr 1950.
---
Daily Variety
7 Apr 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Apr 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 49
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Apr 50
p. 262.
New York Times
28 Apr 50
p. 26.
New York Times
30 Apr 1950.
---
Variety
12 Apr 50
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Shoplifter
Release Date:
12 April 1950
Production Date:
late October--late November 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
17 March 1950
Copyright Number:
LP21
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
74
Length(in feet):
6,639
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14306
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a large California department store, detectives spot attractive young kleptomaniac Faye Burton. Jeff Andrews, another shopper, warns Faye that she is being watched, but she pretends not to understand him and continues her thefts. Shortly afterward, she is apprehended by the detectives, and moments later, Jeff is also taken into custody for shoplifting. Faye, who is a judge's daughter, swears that she will not steal again, and is released after she signs a confession. Before she leaves, the officials warn her that she will go to prison if she is caught stealing again. Later, Jeff, who is really an undercover operator trying to break a shoplifting ring, meets with Sheriff Bascom. Bascom explains that the ring uses only amateur thieves, who know nothing about the operation, and drops them if they are arrested. He believes that someone working with store security is allied with the ring and tips them when an amateur has been apprehended. Jeff then suggests that they follow Faye in case she is contacted by the ring. Subsequently, at the library where Faye works, a woman named Ina Perdue offers to return her confession if she comes to the Casa del Mar nightclub, and the conversation is overheard by another operative. That night, after a quarrel with her aunt, Faye leaves for her meeting and encounters Jeff outside the house. He offers to accompany her, and because she is afraid, she agrees. Upstairs at the club, Ina and her cohort, Barkie Neff, show Faye a photostat of her confession. Ina then has Jeff brought upstairs and asks about his connection to Faye. Jeff explains that ... +


In a large California department store, detectives spot attractive young kleptomaniac Faye Burton. Jeff Andrews, another shopper, warns Faye that she is being watched, but she pretends not to understand him and continues her thefts. Shortly afterward, she is apprehended by the detectives, and moments later, Jeff is also taken into custody for shoplifting. Faye, who is a judge's daughter, swears that she will not steal again, and is released after she signs a confession. Before she leaves, the officials warn her that she will go to prison if she is caught stealing again. Later, Jeff, who is really an undercover operator trying to break a shoplifting ring, meets with Sheriff Bascom. Bascom explains that the ring uses only amateur thieves, who know nothing about the operation, and drops them if they are arrested. He believes that someone working with store security is allied with the ring and tips them when an amateur has been apprehended. Jeff then suggests that they follow Faye in case she is contacted by the ring. Subsequently, at the library where Faye works, a woman named Ina Perdue offers to return her confession if she comes to the Casa del Mar nightclub, and the conversation is overheard by another operative. That night, after a quarrel with her aunt, Faye leaves for her meeting and encounters Jeff outside the house. He offers to accompany her, and because she is afraid, she agrees. Upstairs at the club, Ina and her cohort, Barkie Neff, show Faye a photostat of her confession. Ina then has Jeff brought upstairs and asks about his connection to Faye. Jeff explains that he is interested in joining Ina's operation, even though she does not usually work with professionals. While Faye is instructed in shoplifting techniques, Ina checks Jeff's arrest record and is intrigued enough to meet him the next day. At the pawn shop where Ina works, Jeff learns that the "boosters," as shoplifters are called, are paid through the shop. After Faye completes her training, she is sent to San Diego, where she is expected to steal a list of items from a specific store. When the distraught Faye tells Jeff about her assignment, he offers to steal the things for her. They meet later in San Diego. While Jeff is in a nearby cabin, Pepe, Ina's hired killer, attempts to rape Faye. Watched by Pepe, she runs into the ocean, intending to kill herself, but is rescued by Jeff. The next morning, Jeff tells Faye that he is working undercover, and she agrees to complete her assignment. Meanwhile, Ina's gang is informed about Jeff's role by their department store contact. When Faye arrives at the warehouse drop-off with the stolen items, the gang takes her hostage. Outside, Jeff waits with other officers for Faye to leave before moving to arrest the gang with the stolen goods. When Jeff realizes that Faye has been kidnapped, he chases Ina's car to the border. Bascom, however, refuses to arrest the gang because he is hoping that they will lead him to their headquarters. In Mexico, the stolen items are about to be auctioned, when Pepe spots Jeff, and a fight breaks out. Ina, Pepe and the others are arrested during a raid. Jeff and Bascom then offer them lenient sentences if they will reveal their contact, but they remain silent. Despite this, Herb Klaxon, the crooked security guard, is exposed when he attempts to run away. He explains that he fell in love with Ina after he caught her shoplifting and cooperated with the gang for that reason. Now that the shoplifters are headed for prison, Jeff gives a diamond ring to Faye, with whom he has fallen in love. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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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.