To stop crooked financier Walter DuBruis (Brock Peters) from wrecking a small African nation's economy, Jim Phelps and his team pose as counterfeiters...who concoct a state-of-the-art machine that prints phony money.
James Phelps, IMF Director, receives his information from a cigarette vending machine; after feeding in coins, he depresses a button marked "EMPTY" on the machine. (In the 1960s, such machines were much more commonplace than they later became.) The recording of Phelps's briefing, which he plays back inside his blue convertible-topped car, transcribes thus:
"Good afternoon, Mr. Phelps.
"The man you are looking at is Walter DuBruis, the most unscrupulous financier in Africa. DuBruis's brokerage firm is in Ghalea(pronounced "guh-LAY-uh"), a small African nation whose pro-Western government is the key to stability in the area.
"Last week, a shipment of paper used to make Ghalean currency was hijacked by this man, a counterfeiter, Raf Tagoor. We believe Tagoor has made a deal with DuBruis to pass the counterfeit money, which would wreck the Ghalean economy. Because DuBruis is powerful and influential, he cannot be arrested on suspicion alone.
"Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to recover the paper, and put DuBruis out of business--permanently. As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
"Please destroy this tape in the usual manner.
"Good luck, Jim."
Phelps flings the tape recorder and the photographs into a discards drum approximately two car lengths down the street from where he had parked, and once they are inside it, smoke explodes from the drum.
Walter DuBruis, "mark" of the "big con game" Phelps has been asked to "play," has been "put up" for the Impossible Missions Force to "fleece."
Recruiting the teamEdit
Later that evening, after he has accepted the mission, Phelps, being the "grifter," prepares for its accomplishment, in the IMF safe house where he will brief the agents, by recruiting Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter as "ropers" for DuBruis. To build his "big store" against which DuBruis will be played and fleeced of both the hijacked paper and both his business and his freedom, he recruits electronic engineer Barnard Collier, NASA contractor. (The services of mechanical engineer and muscle laborer William Armitage, Phelps decides, are not required for this mission.) The missing factor, official sanction from Ghalea's government, is supplied by its Finance Minister, Paul Giroux. Presumably the man who had initially alerted Phelps's superiors to Tagoor's hijacking of the paper, Giroux has been attempting for years, but to date unsuccessfully, to imprison DuBruis for speculating in stocks without having sufficient cash to pay for them.
Preparing the plotEdit
Over the course (presumably) of the following two weeks, Collier prepares (presumably with advance permission from the United States Secret Service) fifty-seven thousand dollars of counterfeited Ghalean currency that Hand will use to begin "playing the con" for DuBruis--in this case, buying stock and paying for it with the funny money. (In the same time period, Hand has consulted with an IMF doctor to learn how to falsify a grand mal epilepsy seizure.) Collier and Carter make Hand grin with glee when they demonstrate the ink that will be used in the funny money which Collier means to supply through his "money machine." (Any document printed using such ink, upon being bombarded with low-level microwaves from two emitters under remote control from a switch concealed in Carter's cigarette lighter, will be reduced within seconds to a greasy, illegible mess.) Giroux visits the IMF safe house, revealing himself to be the "inside man." He has arranged, during the time between Phelps's acceptance of the mission and the final briefing of his team, to have enough of the necessary fake dough stored in a warehouse, ready for the IMF to use in its trap.
Setting the trapEdit
Carter begins the roping by entering DuBruis's stock brokerage firm and attempting to corner the market on Ambuli Copper, a previously dormant property. To convince DuBruis to relax the margin required on stock purchases, she claims that her husband is an Ambuli mining engineer who has found a fabulous new copper vein--news that, once released, will make Ambuli Copper worth millions of dollars; she says this news will be released in two days. Collier patches in a teletype that corroborates her story and motivates DuBruis to buy Ambuli Copper stock for himself, not for Carter. That is Hand's cue to tighten the roping by using the fifty-seven thousand dollars in funny money to pay, in cash, for unrelated stock that he buys through DuBruis just before "suffering" (actually simulating) his epileptic seizure; Collier poses as the doctor who "treats" him. DuBruis searches Hand's pockets for an address but finds that Hand had less than five hundred genuine dollars when he entered Ghalea. He has his assistant, Anton Bouchet, check the cash Hand had used and is told: "Counterfeit. All of it."
DuBruis has been "told the tale" and "given the convincer."
"Recovering" from his "seizure" in DuBruis's residence, Hand is "dosed" with truth serum and leads DuBruis to his source, a high-speed computer copier, located inside a van, which Phelps operates. But when DuBruis tries to move in on Phelps with armed thugs, Collier, wearing a "flak" vest and keeping his face masked, surprises them with a machine rifle (loaded with blanks) he fires into them. DuBruis needs eight million dollars to buy out Ambuli, and the way to come up with the cash he finds consists of three millions of his own and five millions he thinks he will make that day. Phelps demands that DuBruis provide the Ghalean paper (thus "giving the breakdown" to DuBruis and "putting him on the send") and identifies Hand as the man who blends his machine's inks. Hand, and the paper, are brought by DuBruis (back from "the send") to where Phelps has parked the van. DuBruis watches the money machine produce seemingly perfect Ghalean currency, but has no idea that it has a secret component concealed inside it--Collier, who takes the paper DuBruis had had stolen and feeds out his special currency, printed well in advance with the microwave-soluble ink.
Springing the trapEdit
DuBruis greedily buys out Ambuli Copper, and Finance Minister Giroux does not fail to notice this. As Bouchet informs him that the stock has indeed gained a value of millions, Giroux demands to see DuBruis's cash, kept in two suitcases. But Phelps has hidden the microwave emitters inside both of DuBruis's suitcases, and Carter flicks the switch on her cigarette lighter just as DuBruis is reaching, smugly, into one of them. Thus, instead of removing crisp new currency from it, what he removes from it, and the other suitcase, are handfuls of greasy, smeared, and useless paper; this leaves DuBruis unable to pay for the eight million dollars worth of stock with which he has been left. The "touch" has been "taken off," the "mark" (DuBruis) is being "blown off," and the "fix" is now in. For Giroux is now able to have DuBruis arrested at long last, and Phelps's mission team heads for the Ghalean equivalent of the United States Engraving-And-Printing Bureau with the real Ghalean currency paper.
- Peter Graves as Jim Phelps
- Martin Landau as Rollin Hand
- Barbara Bain as Cinnamon Carter
- Greg Morris as Barney Collier
- Peter Lupus as Willy Armitage
Lupus does not participate in this installment.
- Brock Peters as Walter DuBruis
- Michael Shillo as Raf Tagoor
- Davis Roberts as Anton Bouchet
- Rockne Tarkington as Paul Giroux
- The Valet: John Copage.
- Stunt by Lee Duncan.
- Epileptic stunt by Tom Steel.
- The confidence trick used on Walter DuBruis, "the money box," is one of the oldest in the various books devoted to describing such scams. Here, the Impossible Missions Force "jazzes it up," computer style.
- In early 1988, as Patrick J. White reports in The Complete "Mission: Impossible" Dossier, several banks in the United States accepted checks that had been coated with a chemical which made the paper deteriorate in a matter of hours. White quotes Time Magazine as reporting, "In a few days, they were little more than confetti." He also quotes a Chicago police captain who investigated the case as saying, "It's like something out of a James Bond movie."