The Big Boodle

The Big Boodle is a 1957 American film noir crime film directed by Richard Wilson, and starring Errol Flynn, Pedro Armendáriz, Rossana Rory, and Gia Scala, set in Cuba.[3]

The Big Boodle
The Big Boodle - Poster.jpg
1957 Theatrical Poster
Directed byRichard Wilson
Produced byLewis F. Blumberg
Screenplay byJo Eisinger
Based onnovel by Robert Sylvester
StarringErrol Flynn
Pedro Armendáriz
Rossana Rory
Gia Scala
Music byRaúl Lavista
CinematographyLee Garmes
Edited byCharles L. Kimball
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • January 25, 1957 (1957-01-25) (San Antonio, Texas)
  • March 11, 1957 (1957-03-11) (New York City, New York)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgeta little over $600,000[1]
Box office371,394 admissions (France)[2]

The movie was also known as Night in Havana.[4]


Ned Sherwood, a blackjack dealer in a Havana casino, is given some counterfeit peso bills by a woman. He confronts the woman with the fact they are counterfeit, but she denies it and leaves.

That night, on his way home, two thugs attack Ned but run off when the police are summoned. Guillermo Mastegui, Chief of the Secret Section of the Cuban National Police, interrogates Ned about the attack and accuses him of being involved in a plan to flood Cuba with worthless currency. Mastegui and a U.S. Treasury agent plan to have Ned followed in the hope that he will lead them to the head counterfeiter.

Ned loses his job and can't leave Cuba. He meets with a young woman, Anita Ferrer, who believes that he has the bills, as well as the engraving plates they were made from, and offers to buy them. Anita takes him to meet her father, who is president of the Bank of Cuba.

Señor Ferrer explains to Ned that Mastegui suspects that three million counterfeit pesos, manufactured in Chicago, are about to be laundered through the bank. Because this act would destroy confidence in the bank and in the government, Ferrer is anxious to discover who is behind the plot. Ned tells Ferrer that he knows nothing about the matter and is about to leave when Ferrer's other daughter, Josefina, returns home and Ned recognizes her as the woman who passed him the notes in the casino, but says nothing.

When "Fina" agrees to a meeting with Ned, she again denies any involvement in the counterfeiting, but offers to be seen with him in the hope of having the ringleaders show their hand.

After visiting several nightclubs, Fina admits that she took the counterfeit money from the pocket of Carlos Rubi, her sister's boyfriend.

Upon leaving a club, Ned and Fina are kidnapped by Miguel Collada, a trusted banking aide of her father, and his henchman Chuchu. Collada reveals that he is behind the scheme to substitute the counterfeit bills, which have now been chemically aged, for bundles of old, withdrawn bills that are to be burned under his supervision. He will then keep the genuine, old currency, but fears that his associate, Rubi, may have stolen the plates, which could connect him to the swindle.

To help Ned, with whom she is falling in love, Fina suggests to Collada that Rubi may have hidden the plates in El Morro Castle where Rubi, she and Anita used to play as children. Meanwhile, Anita meets with Rubi to try to extricate themselves from Collada's scheme in which they became involved in order to pay off substantial debts.

After Collada and Fina depart for El Morro, leaving Chuchu to guard Ned, Rubi comes to the house intending to kill Collada, but is shot and killed by Chuchu.

Ned escapes, alerts Mastegui, then goes with Anita to El Morro. When they catch up with Collada and Fina, Collada uses Fina as a shield during a gunfight. Anita tries to bargain with him, but is killed by Collada. Ned jumps on Collada and they fight on the castle's parapet until Collada falls, with the plates, into the sea and is eaten by sharks.

To protect Ferrer from the knowledge of Anita's wrongdoing, Mastegui declares that she has died a hero and considers the case closed. Ned and Fina walk off together.


  • Errol Flynn as Ned Sherwood
  • Pedro Armendáriz as Col. Mastegui
  • Rossana Rory as "Fina" Ferrer
  • Gia Scala as Anita Ferrer
  • Francisco Canero as Police doctor
  • Luis Oquendo as Detective
  • Charles Todd as U.S. Treasury Agent Griswold
  • Enrique Cruz Alvarez as Police lt.
  • Rogelio Hernández as Miguel Salcito
  • Carlos Mas as Chuchu
  • Jacques Aubuchon as Miguel Collada
  • Guillermo Alvarez Guedes as Casino manager
  • Aurora Pita as Linen shop girl
  • Velia Martinez as Salcito's Secretary
  • Sandro Giglio as Armando Ferrer
  • Cesar Fernandez-Garriga as Errol Flynn's attacker and later knife victim


Original NovelEdit

The film was based on a 1954 novel by Richard Sylvester, which was reportedly based on a true incident.[1]

The New York Times wrote that "Sylvester offers a dazzling yet believable new method of making counterfeit money, a credible private detective, an agreeable half-humorous style and much background detail on the history and atmosphere of Cuba - in all, just about enough to atone for a coincidental and episodic story and an irritating number of howlers in Spanish."[5]

The Chicago Daily Tribune called it a "rugged slap bang adventure... at times engaging, at times superfluously vulgar."[6]


An earlier Sylvester novel Rough Sketch, had been filmed as We Were Strangers. The Cuban government, via its cultural representative in the US, Roberto Hernandez, approached Sylvester, offering facilities and possibly some financing for a movie version of The Big Boodle. Sylvester was enthusiastic, stating that "in addition to having all that colorful, authentic scenery and police clearance and co operation - always a big help - the picture could be made inexpensively. It begins, briefly, here in New York as an American private eye heads to Cuba. From then on, the rest of the characters - and there are four main ones - are islanders."[7]

Darcy Miller bought the film rights and announced plans to produce and direct.[8] This fell through but a few months later it was announced film rights had been optioned by Lewis Blumberg, son of Nate Blumberg, chairman of Universal International. In February 1956 Blumberg signed a deal with United Artists. Originally he said he did not want to film in Cuba.[9]


Errol Flynn signed to star in March 1956.[10] He reportedly had a 25% interest in the film.[11]

The following month Richard Wilson agreed to direct; Wilson had first met Flynn when he and Orson Welles hired Flynn's yacht for The Lady from Shanghai.[12]

Linda Christian discussed playing a female lead.[13] Eventually Rosanna Rory took the part, with Gia Scala in support.[14] Pedro Armendariz flew in from Italy to play the lead.[15] Carlos Rivas, who had appeared in The King and I, also joined the cast. Blumberg said, "The possible added revenue far outweighs the additional salaries we may have had to face in rounding up this cast."[16]


Filming did eventually take place in Cuba, starting in late May 1956.[17][18]

Shooting mostly took place in Havana. The climax was shot at Morro Castle.[19][20] It was one of the first American movies shot in Cuba, and used many of the cast and crew from The Sharkfighters.[21][16]

"We certain couldn't complain about the Cuban co operation," said Blumberg.[16]

Post production was done in Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City.[11]


Critical ReceptionEdit

The Los Angeles Times called the film "a fair-to-middling screen drama... the story gets pretty well muddled... Director Richard Wilson manages to keep his mimes moving around briskly. As for Flynn - well, he's the same Errol, albeit a bit older."[22]

The New York Times said the film was "fairly taut during most of the route, if somewhat locquatious, director Richard Wilson has kept his principals moving at a brisk pace against an authentic background."[23]

Filmink magazine wrote "You wouldn’t believe the handsome, dashing Errol Flynn of the ‘30s and ‘40s had been reduced to being a croupier at a Havana casino – but you would believe the seedy Errol of the late ‘50s; his age and pain on his face tell the story of it all… a man who’s done a lot of living, with plenty of regret. "[24]

Flynn would return to Cuba to make another movie, Assault of the Cuban Rebel Girls.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Sully, Frank (16 January 1957). "Sully's Scrapbook". Variety. p. 72.
  2. ^ 1958 Box office figures in France at Box Office Story
  3. ^ "The Big Boodle (1957) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  4. ^ ""Night in Havana"". Western Herald (Bourke, NSW : 1887 - 1970). Bourke, NSW: National Library of Australia. 15 May 1959. p. 3. Retrieved 1 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ A Report on Recent Criminals at Large: Criminala at Large By ANTHONY BOUCHER. New York Times 11 July 1954: BR10.
  6. ^ Keeping Tab on Murder Drake, Drexel. Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Aug 1954: g5.
  7. ^ OF PICTURES AND PEOPLE: Blueprint for 'Prince of Players' -- A Chinese 'G. W. T. W.' -- Other Items By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times 18 July 1954: X5
  8. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times 16 Oct 1954: 12.
  9. ^ de Rochemont Prepares Israel Film--Addends By A. H. WELLSES. New York Times 20 Mar 1955: X5.
  10. ^ SAMURAI' IS CITED BY FILM ACADEMY: Japanese Movie Named Top Foreign-Language Work in Advance of Presentations New Role for Flynn By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 20 Mar 1956: 13.
  11. ^ a b "The Big Boodle - notes". Turner Classic Movies.
  12. ^ Lloyd Nolan Plans to Stage L'Engle Novel on Broadway, Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 12 Apr 1956: c2
  13. ^ Drama: Milland Film Program Expands; Ann Harding Spurs Shadow Romance Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 30 Apr 1956: 27.
  14. ^ 'KINGS GO FORTH' WILL BE A MOVIE: Novel by Joe David Brown, Recently Published, to Be Filmed by Frank Ross U.S. Film Festival Urged By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 9 May 1956: 36.
  15. ^ FOREIGN EARNINGS OF U.-I. INCREASING: Aboaf, Overseas Manager, Reports 78 Per Cent Gain in Last Five Years By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 10 May 1956: 28.
  16. ^ a b c "Lewis Blumberg's First Feature". Variety. 28 November 1956. p. 4.
  17. ^ "Havana Blossoms". Variety. 22 February 1956. p. 63.
  18. ^ "Start Bundle in Havana". Variety. May 30, 1956. p. 14.
  19. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 210
  20. ^ OF PEOPLE AND PICTURES: 'Next of Kin' Planned by Hal Wallis For Shirley Booth--New Company By A.H. WEILER. New York Times 17 June 1956: 103.
  21. ^ 'SHARKFIGHTERS' IN THE CARIBBEAN: Sam Goldwyn Jr. Films Drama on Location In and Off Cuba The Stars Seafarers The Story By GRADY JOHNSON. New York Times 1 Apr 1956: 99.
  22. ^ Havana Picturesque Locale for Whodunit Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 13 Feb 1957: 25.
  23. ^ Cuban Counterfeiters New York Times 12 Mar 1957: 38.
  24. ^ Vagg, Stephen (December 15, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 6 – The Final Adventures". Filmink.
  25. ^ M. Shanken Communications, Inc. "Flynn's Last Fling - News & Features".

External linksEdit