Bland movie but it’s still worth seeing due to an excellent performance by Jean Simmons as a manipulative twenty year old. Also giving an excellent performance as a defense attorney is Leon Ames. It’s a Howard Hughes presentation produced and directed by Otto Preminger.
An ambulance is called to a Beverly Hills mansion. Driving is Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum). With him is Bill Crompton (Kenneth Tobey). Catherine Tremayne (Barbara O’Neil) has inhaled some gas. She thinks it was deliberate but it’s judged an accident. On the way out Frank sees Diane Tremayne (Jean Simmons) playing piano. He tells her her stepmother is okay. She gets hysterical and he has to slap her out of it. She slaps him back. This will not be their last contact.
Frank heads to a diner and doesn’t know Diane is following him in her sports car. In the diner Frank calls his girlfriend Mary (Mona Freeman). No answer. In walks Diane. She flirts with him. Mary calls and has dinner waiting for Frank. He says he’s too tired. Diane tells him all about her father Charles (Herbert Marshall) and how they came to America after her mother was killed in the blitz. Diane is no fan of Catherine. Frank says he’s saving up to start his own auto repair shop for sports cars. He’s a former race car driver.
The next day Diane calls Mary to meet her for lunch. She says she wants to help Frank anonymously with a donation of a thousand dollars. Mary has been saving money to help him. She knows exactly what Diane is really up to when she mentions she spent last evening with Frank. Later Frank lies to Mary and she goes out with Bill.
As things move along Diane convinces Frank to quit his job and work for the family as a chauffeur. Looks like Catherine is interested in investing in Frank’s dream and calls her lawyer to give him some facts and figures. He’s out of town but Catherine says she’ll follow up when he returns.
Diane and Frank meet secretly. She gives him the paper with the facts and figures she says she found in Catherine’s waste basket. She says if Catherine finds out about them Frank will be fired and Catherine’s anger will be taken out on her father. Later that night Diane goes to Frank’s room and says Catherine tried to kill herself by turning on the gas. Frank doesn’t buy it.
The next day Frank says he’s quitting and Diane turns on the waterworks. Frank backs down and says he’ll stick around for a few more days. Catherine is on her way to a bridge tournament. On the way out Charles asks for a lift. She puts the car in drive and it races in reverse over a cliff. They’re goners.
Frank and Diane are arrested for murder. Her lawyer is Fred Barrett (Leon Ames). He cooks up a plan that has Frank and Diane getting married. The trial starts with D.A. Judson (Jim Backus) calling on a representative from an insurance company to explain how the car could have been tampered with to cause the crash.
The movie lacks intensity but thanks to Simmons and Ames and Mitchum it is worth checking out.