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Strange Gamble

Strange Gamble(1948)

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Undercover federal agents Hopalong Cassidy, California Carlson and Lucky Jenkins are posing as outlaws while pursuing a gang of counterfeiters making American and Mexican bank notes. On their way to Silver City, where they suspect the gang is headquartered, they help a young woman, Nora Murphy, who is attempting to drive a runaway stagecoach. Both the driver and Nora's brother Sid are drunk inside along with her seriously ill sister-in-law Mary. In Silver City, Mordigan, who owns most of the town, refuses to give them rooms at his hotel, but the local doctor, Doc White, announces that the sick woman can have his room. Sid tells Mordigan that he has bought the "Silver Belle" mine, but Mordigan states that there is no mine by that name. Later at Wong's lunch room, Hoppy shows his pals some of the counterfeit bills and explains that the only clues they have came from an anonymous letter from Silver City received by his chief. The envelope contained a bank note with the name Mordigan written on it, along with a drawing of a comet. Later, Sid is found dead in Mordigan's saloon. As Hoppy is about to break the news to Nora, Doc White runs up to say that Mary's condition is worsening. Mary dies, and Mordigan, who resents Hoppy's questions about Sid's death, arranges to have him eliminated. One night, Mordigan's henchman, Longhorn, starts a cattle stampede through the camp where Hoppy and the others are sleeping, but they narrowly escape. Back at the saloon, Hoppy demands payment for damaged equipment, and Mordigan pays him but tells him to leave town. Later, Hoppy and his pals follow the saloon's new faro dealer, De Lara, who has been acting suspiciously. De Lara reports to Doc White, who reveals that he is wearing a pin with a comet design. To avoid eviction from the hotel, Nora then poses as Hoppy's fiancée and he goes along with the ruse. Nora tells Hoppy that, several years earlier, her father, John Murphy, discovered the "Silver Belle" mine but then disappeared. Mordigan then orders Hoppy, California, Lucky and Nora to leave town, but they buy Wong's lunch room in order to have a legitimate reason to stay. They rename the place "The Comet" and Wong stays on as cook. While looking for the mine, Hoppy meets Nora's father, who is being made to work for Mordigan against his will. In the meantime, Doc White sees Lucky installing the new sign for "The Comet" and tells Lucky that he sent the letter. Just then Pete and his gang open fire on the café, hitting Doc White, but Hoppy arrives back in time to rout the attackers. Doc is mortally wounded but tells Hoppy, ambiguously, to "take care of De Lara." Still posing as an outlaw, Hoppy has a showdown with Mordigan and demands a fifty per cent share in his operations. When Mordigan discovers that De Lara is a Mexican police agent, they take him out to the mine, which Mordigan has been using as the headquarters for his counterfeiting operation, to arrange an "accident." Hoppy manages to free De Lara who, because he has no authority on the American side of the border, has been waiting for Hoppy to reveal himself as an agent. Inside the mine, Hoppy discovers Longhorn keeping Murphy prisoner as he makes the counterfeit bills. Hoppy then overwhelms Mordigan and his men and arrests them. After Murphy and Nora reunite, he explains to Hoppy that years before, in Boston, he was an engraver and that Mordigan had coerced him into working as a counterfeiter. Nora and her father announce plans to restart mining operations, and California and Lucky are relieved to learn that Hoppy's engagement to Nora is no longer a necessity. With their assignments completed, De Lara returns to Mexico while Hoppy and his friends return to the Bar-20.