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DVD Reviews

Mister 880 DVD Review

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#1 of 3 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

    Screenwriter

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Posted April 04 2013 - 07:30 AM

Mister 880 DVD Review

Mister 880 is an amiable story about a most unusual counterfeiter who baffled the Secret Service for ten years - from 1938 to 1948 - before he was identified and arrested. Supposedly no single counterfeiter or counterfeit ring has ever operated successfully in the United States for such a long period of time. The film is a fictionalized version of the true story of Edward Mueller, who at the age of 63 began to supplement his meager income with phony dollar bills which he made on a small printing press in his New York City apartment. Mister 880 is a new addition to Fox's Cinema Archives library of MOD DVDs, and while it is not a flawless transfer it will certainly satisfy most viewers.


Cover Art


Studio: Fox

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.

Package Includes: DVD

DVD Amray

Disc Type: DVD-R

Region: All

Release Date: 03/01/2013

MSRP: $19.98




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

Mister 880 is an amiable story about a most unusual counterfeiter who baffled the Secret Service for ten years - from 1938 to 1948 - before he was identified and arrested. Supposedly no single counterfeiter or counterfeit ring has ever operated successfully in the United States for such a long period of time. The film is a fictionalized version of the true story of Edward Mueller, who at the age of 63 began to supplement his meager income with phony dollar bills which he made on a small printing press in his New York City apartment. Mister 880 is a new addition to Fox's Cinema Archives library of MOD DVDs, and while it is not a flawless transfer it will certainly satisfy most viewers.

In the film Edward Mueller's name has been changed to Skipper Miller (Edmund Gwenn). Skipper is an elderly junk dealer, although he likes to think of himself as a dealer in antiques. Years earlier he came into possession of a printing press, for which he fashioned an engraving plate which allowed him to make crude forgeries of dollar bills. Although relatively few of his bills actually got into circulation, for a decade he was a thorn in the side of the Secret Service, which was unable to develop any leads about his identity. Because the case file is number 880, the mysterious counterfeiter has been dubbed "Mister 880."

The stumped Secret Service decides to call in new blood in the form of agent Steve Buchanan (Burt Lancaster), who is transferred from Los Angeles to New York. Buchanan studies the case and arrives at two conclusions: Mister 880 has avoided detection because he only passes $1 bills (which merchants pay little attention to) and he does not pass his crude bills at the same place twice. Buchanan gets a break of sorts when he discovers that one of Mister 880's bills has been unknowingly passed by Ann Winslow (Dorothy McGuire), who is a translator for the United Nations. Ann lives in the same apartment building as Skipper, and one day she purchases a miniature spinning wheel from him and he gives her two counterfeit singles as change. Buchanan develops a ruse which allows him to get close to Ann, but she quickly sees through him and amusingly begins a ruse of her own because she is attracted to him and does not want him to lose interest in her.

Buchanan becomes obsessed with catching Mister 880, never suspecting that he is the genial Skipper Miller who is beloved by everyone in his neighborhood, including Ann. This film is not a whodunit because we know the identity of Mister 880 almost from the first scene. It is more of a law enforcement procedural, and we follow Buchanan and his fellow agents as they gamely try to solve a puzzle which has frustrated them for years. Burt Lancaster always turns in interesting performances, and this film is no exception. Dorothy McGuire is charming as Ann, who develops a close relationship with Buchanan after they come to realize that they have been tricking each other. But what really makes Mister 880 special is Edmund Gwenn's portrayal as a criminal who does seem to appreciate that he is doing anything wrong. Mister 880 is capably directed by Edmund Goulding and has a lively screenplay by Robert Riskin. The film takes some liberties with the facts, but it successfully captures the spirit of the true story.



Video Rating: 3/5  3D Rating: NA

This transfer has not been remastered, but overall the 1.33:1 black & white image is in pretty good shape. There are occasional speckles, but the contrast is solid and black levels are generally fine. For the most part the picture is reasonably sharp. I noticed some softness is close-ups, but that may have been by design.



Audio Rating: 3/5

The mono audio is pretty much what you would expect - nothing special, but nothing to complain about, either. Dialogue is clear and understandable, and you have to listen very closely to hear some minor noise on the soundtrack. There are no subtitles.



Special Features Rating: 0/5

This is a bare-bones disc with no extras. There are no chapters, but you can skip ahead ten minutes at a time.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Mister 880 is an enjoyable film which boasts a stellar cast and holds up surprisingly well today. The picture quality is good and the audio is satisfactory. Fans of Burt Lancaster and Dorothy McGuire will want to pick this up, but be prepared to be charmed by Edmund Gwenn’s performance.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable


Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher


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Rich Gallagher

#2 of 3 Everett Stallings

Everett Stallings

    Second Unit

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Posted April 07 2013 - 03:33 AM

I saw this on TCM very enjoyable. Mr. Gwenn great as always.


Former projectionist @ all downtown theatres in Balto. City.Which are all closed. frown.gif

#3 of 3 andrew markworthy

andrew markworthy

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Posted April 07 2013 - 10:08 AM

I LOVE this film!  I saw it by chance one Saturday afternoon and have been hunting for a copy ever since!  Thank you for alerting me to this - am ordering it right away!







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