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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
The Notorious Landlady is based on a short story, The Notorious Tenant, written by prolific English author Margery Sharp [1909-1991]. The story was first published in Colliers Magazine in February, 1956. The story was adapted for the film by American film-maker Blake Edwards.
The landlady, Mrs Carlyle "Carly" Hardwicke (Kim Novak) is "notorious" because it is believed that she murdered her husband who hasn't been seen since the neighbors heard a gunshot from their house and saw a car speed away.
After being briefed by Inspector Oliphant (Lionel Jeffries) from Scotland Yard about their suspicion that Carly murdered her husband and being strongly urged by his boss, Franklyn Ambruster (Fred Astaire), to cooperate with the police in helping to obtain evidence to either prove or disprove Carly's innocence, Bill (Jack Lemmon) returns home to find a note lying on the floor. It reads: "My Dear Mrs H - Time is of the essence - If we can dispose of the matter tonight, I will have it removed from your house immediately. He watches over you in all you do - P.L."
Murder on the Footbridge, Death in the Night, and A Study in Homicide.
Just a pilot's uniform that belonged to Carly's husband.
At the beginning of the film, Carly evades the question. When Bill finally gets her to talk about it, she denies it. She denies even knowing who murdered him and where the body might be. A little over an hour into the movie, in a plot twist, Miles Hardwicke (Maxwell Reed) shows up in Carly's bedroom in the middle of the night. He explains to her that he had to disappear because he stole some stolen jewels that he was transporting for a client and that the shady client sent an assassin to kill him. He's been in hiding for the past six months, he says, and now he wants money from Carly. When Carly says that she has no money, Miles begins to rough her up. He pulls a gun on her, they struggle, and the gun goes off, accidentally killing Miles. And so begins a long line of further twists that send the film off in a roller coaster of surprising directions.
Bill and Carly catch the train to Penzance (Cornwall) in an attempt to locate elderly Mrs Dunhill (Estelle Winwood) to find out the truth about Mrs Brown (Philippa Bevans). When they arrive at the Hotel Wessex, all of the elderly residents are lined up in rows on the lawn, in attendance at a band concert. They race around looking in each umbrella-covered wheelchair, but Mrs Dunhill is not to be found until an attendant points out that Mrs Brown has taken Mrs Dunhill for a walk along the cliffs. Actually, Mrs Brown intends to murder Mrs Dunhill to keep her quiet. When Mrs Brown sees Bill and Carly running after her, she gives Mrs Dunhill's wheelchair a push toward the cliffs and then rushes off in the opposite direction. Carly goes after Mrs Brown, while Bill chases after Mrs Dunhill, stopping her wheelchair just in time to keep her from tumbling off the cliffs into the ocean. Ambruster and Oliphant arrive by Army helicopter. Carly, Bill, and Mrs Dunhill give a rather garbled explanation of how Mrs Brown killed the pawnbroker in order to get the jewels from the candelabra, how Mrs Brown attempted to kill Mrs Dunhill, and what Mrs Dunhill actually saw the night that Miles Hardwicke was accidentally shot. In the final scene, Mrs Dunhill's wheelchair takes off again towards the cliffs, everyone chases after her, and the band plays on.
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