Starts out like it’s going to be an interesting movie about an innocent man convicted of murder, false confessions and a D.A. convinced he convicted the right man. Then it sinks into total stupidity.
D,A. Steve Pettijohn (Frank Craven) is telling a law school class about circumstantial evidence. He tells the story of the murder of wealthy banker James Gardner (Jerome Cowan) and how circumstantial evidence convicted Garner’s assistant Harry Beach of the crime.
Harry is engaged to Susan (Vivian Blaine), the niece of Margie (June Walker), Steve’s wife. They both are convinced Harry’s innocent and let Steve know it. Three months after the trial there’s an announcement in the paper that Constance Gardner (Mary Howard) is engaged to lawyer Ted Farnsworth (Donald Woods). That makes Margie even more suspicious.
Now Steve tells the class about the day of the murder.
Steve gets a call from the mountain town where Gardner has a hunting cabin and some horses. It’s the sheriff. Gardner’s body has been found with a bullet in it. Sue comes to the house and says Harry’s been missing since driving up to the cabin to deliver some papers.
Sue leaves and Constance comes in and says she killed Gardner. She asked him for a divorce and he said no way. Then she tells him she has another man. She says Gardner got drunk,came after her and she had to kill him with his gun in self defense. She flagged Harry down and had him drive her back to town. Steve has her booked for murder.
Next up is Ted. He says he killed Gardner. He says he and Constance went to the cabin to talk things over with Gardner. Ted slugged him but instead of fighting back Gardner invited them inside. Things soon get nasty and Gardner pulls a gun and orders Ted out. Later Ted says he heard Gardner yelling for help. Looks like he fell off his horse. It was just an excuse to draw him to a wooded area. The two fought over the gun and Gardner got killed. Evidence shows Gardner wasn’t killed with his own gun and both are released by a frustrated Pettijohn.
Now the search is on for Harry. He’s finally run down in a mountain cabin. He swears he didn’t do it. He says he came across a drunk Gardner who slugged him when he says he took Constance home. A shot rings out and Gardner’s dead. Harry says he saw someone running away. Because of his checkered past Steve doesn’t believe him. Circumstantial evidence convicts him.
This is where things turn beyond idiocy as Margie charges into Steve’s office demanding he phone the governor for a stay of execution. Harry will be hung in less than an hour. Steve refuses so she orders his secretary to make the call. Then she tells him about how she did some breaking and entering and robbery to get new evidence The governor grants a thirty day stay. She’s lying but she still pulled some illegal moves. Steve brushes it all off and anyone else in the real world would be arrested immediately. But this is Hollyweird where all things are possible.
This was so bad it’s inexcusable outside of a comedy. Skip it if you don’t want to throw things at the screen.