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Down-on-his-luck Casey Morrow (Dane Clark) is drunk like a punk when a
beautiful blonde, Phyllis (Belinda Lee) offers him not only company but
also 500 Pounds for a job. Halfway out anyways, Casey agrees without
knowing what the job actually is, but before he really passes out, he
hears her saying something about marrying her ...
The next day he wakes up in a strange appartment, that of painter
Maggie (Eleanor Summerfield), and has to learn that his wife is the
heiress of a vast fortune and her father was murdered just last night, the
night he remembers nothing about, but he finds bloodstains on his coat ...
Later he learns that he has really married Phyllis and has been at the
scene of the crime. Of course he didn't murder Phyllis' father, but he
left enough fingerprints at the place to make everyone believe he did -
and since he is now apparently married to Phyllis, he even has a motive.
But Phyllis hasn't married him to simply pin the murder on him, she
actually just wants to force him to investigate.
So Casey has to start investigating, and before long he stumbles upon a
private eye who has disappeared, some phoney charity organisations
Phyllis' mother (Betty Ann Davies) has apparently invested in, and lawyer
Lance Gordon (Andrew Osborn), the consellor of Phyllis family who is also
engaged to Phyllis - against her will - and who is apparently behind
everything - and Gordon has grown wise to the fact that Casey is on his
trail and tries to get rid of him. Suddenly Casey and Phyllis find
themselves on the run, not only from the police, who might still think
Casey is the murderer, but also from Gordon ...
Ultimately though, Phyllis leaves Casey, and when Casey looks for her
at her mother's house, he is in for a shock when he finds her with her
mother and Gordon, accusing him of kidnapping. Obviously he was set up by
her from day one. But because he has at least one believable witness who
can falsify the kidnapping accustion - none other than police inspector
Johnson (Michael Golden), who is working on the case -, Casey can keep
Phyllis and company from blowing the whistle on him.
However, when they are alone, Phyllis mother warns him that Lance will
be attempting to shoot him and gives him a loaded gun. And indeed, the
very same evening, Lance shows up at Casey's place and tries to shoot him
- only to realize there are no bullets in his gun. Casey immediately
realizes that his is some kind of set-up and doesn't shoot Lance either
but merely throws his gun at him to knock him out ... bad move actually,
because someone picks up the gun with his fingerprints on it and shoots
Casey is sure that it was Phyllis so he goes to her place to confront
her, getting himself into such a rage in the process that he knocks her
out ... then her mother appears, with the gun Lance was shot with, and
wants to force Casey at gunpoint to shoot Phyllis - which is when
inspector Johnson, who has long been trailing Casey and has never really
been suspecting him, rushes in and arrests ... Phyllis' mother, who has
obviously been ripping off her husband by making donation to various fake charity
organisations, with the help of Lance and now that the whole thing was
on the verge of blowing, she needed a scapegoat - Casey - to pin all the
necessary murders on.
... and suddenly, Casey and Phyllis, who have long become lovers
anyway, are in the clear ...
Ok, so there are several plot elements in this film that just don't
make sense, many questions remain unanswered, and the whole happy ending
seems a bit far-fetched - and despite all this, the film, a British film
noir in the tradition of The Big Sleep, is simply brilliant, a
suspenseful, fast-paced, well-played and - despite above-mentioned
short-comings - well written genre pic if there ever was one. It might be Hammer's
best film noir, and it might even be Terence Fisher's best film - despite
its relative obscurity compared to classics like The
Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula,
which he directed only a few years later.