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John Francis Dillon
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
A suburban high school teacher is fired from her job for teaching sex education. But she continues to give private sessions at her home to her former students leading to rumors and complications around town.
A doctor who is also a "mentalist" confesses to a murder. The only problem is that the murder he's confessed to hasn't happened yet--although dead bodies are now starting to turn up all over the place. A reporter sets out to solve the "mystery". Written by
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Dr. Emil Brandt (Jean Hersholt) staggers into a police station and confesses to murder ... only problem is he hasn't committed it yet. However, he has figured out all of the details and confesses what he intends to do to the police. He is a hypnotist and psychologist and his work involves turning people away from criminal activity. One of his current patients is a bank president who is feeling the urge to steal - Philip Ames. Brandt has already given him a command while under hypnosis - to bring him one hundred thousand dollars - a little over a million dollars in today's money. Tonight, when Ames returns to Brandt's house, it was Brandt's plan to put him under as he usually does with hypnosis, then take the money, kill Ames with a single wound to the heart, then dissect his body and dispose of it. The police would be searching for Ames when the money was discovered missing, but they'd be looking for a live thief not a dead victim of hypnotic suggestion.
Brandt confesses all of this because he is a moral man, is horrified by his own thoughts, and wants to be stopped before it is too late. How did things get this far? Because the moral Brandt is married to a very immoral woman, and she's been suggesting that she will leave Brandt unless their financial situation improves. The police say they can't arrest him for what he hasn't done but they will come to his house and make sure he doesn't carry out his plan. Brandt is thankful and relieved.
In spite of all of these precautions, Brandt does wind up - seemingly alone - in a room with his wife and a hypnotized Ames. The lights go out. Brandt's treacherous wife screams, hears a scuffle, then wrestles with someone in the dark, then flees into the street looking for help. The person who comes to her aid is crime beat reporter Dan McKee (Stuart Erwin). When the lights come back on Ames is dead in the manner described by Brandt in his plot, the money is gone, and Brandt lies next to Ames unconscious from chloroform.
McKee wants to bust this crime wide open for his paper, but he has to work around the police and deal with the fact that there are so many suspects - Brandt's daughter, Brandt's wife and her lover for obvious reasons, Brandt himself, the police who knew Brandt's plans, maybe even Brandt's servants - had they been snooping on private conversations?. Then there is some mystery man who shadows Brandt from the beginning of the film up to the time of the murder. Could he have done it? Brandt's daughter seems innocent enough, but she could have gotten into the house any time, plus McKee is sweet on her. Could she be the killer? What is unique and rather William Castle-like about this film is that about 15 minutes before the end the film is stopped and an announcer comes out and says that this film is moving so fast that the viewer doesn't have time to figure out who did it, so a brief intermission is declared as all of the suspects are shown on the screen while the intermission clock counts down. Then the film concludes.
I really liked this one. Although you are led to believe Jean Hersholt is going to be the lead in the beginning, it is actually Stu Erwin's picture most of the way, and he rises above his normal corn-fed supporting man image and comes across true as the hard-working crime beat reporter confident he can get the killer, get the story, and get the girl, even though it might be the girl herself or her father that he winds up sending to the electric chair.
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