Take One False Step (1949)

take one false step 1949

William Powell gives an excellent performance in this must see suspense movie. He plays an educator who is suspected of murder when a woman disappears.

Professor Andrew Gentling (William Powell) goes to Los Angeles to see a man who is on the verge of giving him two million dollars for a new university. He stops in a bar and there’s an old girlfriend Catherine (Shelly Winters). She’s getting wasted and makes advances to him. He’s married and doesn’t want anything to do with that. She’s married but not happy. He leaves.

Back in his hotel room the phone rings and he thinks it’s his wife Helen (Dorothy Hart) calling from New York. It’s Catherine inviting him to a party. She says if he doesn’t come she’ll show up at the hotel and make a scene. Before leaving he calls Helen and tells her to hop a plane out.

He gets to the address and it’s a party of two…just Andy and Catherine. Then out from another room comes Martha (Marsha Hunt). It’s her house and she’s an old friend of his. Catherine is drunker than before. Martha says she’s been like that ever since her marriage to Arnold Sykes.

He drives her home. She’s all over him outside her house. He slams on the brakes. She hits her head and cuts it. He gives his scarf to stop the bleeding. He gets out of the car and walks away. A bit later he comes back and she’s walking around the sidewalk. He gets in the car and drives off.

The next day he and two friends are meeting with the money man Mr.Arnspiger (Paul Harvey). Andy is distracted by the newspaper. Catherine is on the front page. The story says she’s missing and might be a murder victim. The cops are looking for a mystery man. The only thing they have is a bloody scarf. Arnspiger gets angry because he’s not paying attention and it looks like the deal may be off.

Martha goes to his hotel room and tells him Catherine kept a diary of everything. She thinks it’s in the pocket of a coat in a closet in her house. She found Catherine’s purse in the car and gives Andy the key to the place. When he goes in he’s chased by a police dog. He manages to lock it in another room.

Now he hears someone trying the front door and hides in a closet. Coming in are Captain Gledhill (James Gleason) and Detective Pacciano (Sheldon Leonard). They talk about Arnold’s gambling habit and a plan to follow Martha around. They get a call from a cop who was trailing Arnold. He’s on his way home. They leave and let the dog out. When Andy tries to go he’s bitten on the hand by the dog. He manages to knock it out so he can leave.

Arnold returns and finds the dog and the place ransacked. He thinks it’s his partner in crime Freddie Blair who did it while looking for some missing syndicate money.He calls the cops.  Back at the hotel Andy and Martha find Freddie’s San Francisco phone number in the diary. They think he may be involved in her disappearance because the two were having an affair.

Andy leaves for San Francisco after his friends arrange for him to give a lecture at Berkeley they hope will impress Arnspiger. On the way he stops at a roadside diner and gas station. He goes in for coffee and hears on the radio that the cops are looking for a man connected with the case that was bitten by a dog with rabies.

He leaves and stops at a small town doctor’s house. He’s asked a lot of questions he doesn’t want to answer. The doctor insists on taking him to the hospital for tests. As he puts his shoes on he finally sees the paper that was at his front door. It’s all about the alert for someone with a dog bite. By then Andy is driving away.

When he gets to his San Francisco hotel the doctor who is a heavy hitter in town and set up the lecture drops by to see him. He says he can do anything and Andy asks him to trace Freddie’s address through his phone number. He doesn’t ask any questions. Andy calls him and arranges a meeting for eleven that night.

Lots of suspense to come in a really good movie. Shelly Winters is also excellent as Catherine.

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About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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