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Strange Bargain (1949)

Sam Wilson is having a hard time making ends meet. When he asks his boss for a raise, he finds out that the company is closing down and he'll be out of a job. His boss decides to commit ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based on a story by)


Complete credited cast:
Lt. Richard Webb (as Henry Morgan)
Katherine Emery ...
Richard Gaines ...
Raymond Roe ...
Det. McTay


Sam Wilson is having a hard time making ends meet. When he asks his boss for a raise, he finds out that the company is closing down and he'll be out of a job. His boss decides to commit suicide so that his family can benefit from his insurance. He asks Sam to help make it look like murder. Sam thinks he has convinced the boss not to commit suicide. But the boss does it anyway, so Sam follows the instructions the boss had given him, to make it look like murder. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"$10,000 If You Make My Suicide Look Like MURDER!"


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 November 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Compromisso de Honra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The episode Murder, She Wrote: The Days Dwindle Down (1987) was done as a direct sequel to this movie, with Jessica Fletcher trying to figure out if Malcolm Jarvis' death was suicide or murder. In the episode, Jeffrey Lynn, Martha Scott, and Harry Morgan reprised their roles from the earlier film, and original footage from the film was used as flashbacks to tell the story. See more »


Edited into Murder, She Wrote: The Days Dwindle Down (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

Decent second feature
15 September 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

What's neat about 1949's Strange Bargain is that on an episode of Murder, She Wrote, some of the cast returned for a sequel, during which Jessica tries to get to the bottom of the case. The film solved the case, but for the Murder, She Wrote episode, "The Days Dwindle Down," they added another twist to what we saw.

Anyway, it was a good idea because the film was used in flashbacks. The returning stars were Martha Scott, Jeffrey Lynn (who had long ago left show business and made a fortune in real estate) and Harry Morgan.

In the film Strange Bargain, Jeffrey Lynn plays Sam Wilson, an assistant bookkeeper at a company that is going under. He and his wife, Georgia (Scott) are having trouble making ends meet. With the encouragement of his wife, Sam goes in to ask for a raise and learns then that he's fired. Later on, as he's leaving, his boss, Mr. Jarvis (Richard Gaines) asks him to have a drink.

Jarvis admits that he's gone through the $500,000 his father left him (the equivalent of about 4 million today), and he is basically broke. He plans on killing himself and making it look like murder so his wife (Katherine Emery) can collect his $250,000 insurance policy; with double indemnity, that makes $500,000. He's going to set it up as a robbery. He will call Sam and give him a signal, and he wants Sam to come to his home then and remove the gun and dump it in the river. For that, he'll leave Sam $10,000 in the open safe.

Sam refuses to help him and attempts to talk Jarvis out of it, but he won't be swayed. Sam still refuses to help.

However, Jarvis calls him and gives the signal. Sam pleads with him to wait until he can get there and talk to him, but he's too late. He removes the gun and the money.

The police (Harry Morgan and Walter Sande) start an investigation and hone in on Jarvis' partner, Timothy Hearne (Henry O'Neill). Sam insists that Hearne couldn't have done it, but he's afraid that the man will be arrested.

This is a pretty good film. Lynn's career never recovered after World War II - he was a pleasant enough actor, and still made occasional TV appearances even after he left. Katherine Emery always reminds me of Mercedes McCambridge.

Watch it with the Murder She Wrote episode which you can stream.

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