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Silent Witness

Silent Witness(1943)

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Following the murder of an employee at a silk importing company, District Attorney Bob Holden and his special investigator, Betty Higgins, begin an investigation that they expect will lead to a murder charge against brothers Lou and Joe Manson, the heads of the silk company. When a witness to the murder, Mrs. Roos, identifies the brothers from a photograph in a crime book, Bob and Betty believe they have finally found the proof they need to build a case against the Mansons. Lou and Joe, meanwhile, hire crack attorney Bruce Strong, who is Betty's fiancé, to defend them. During the trial of the Manson brothers, Bruce impeaches Mrs. Roos' testimony by revealing a minor shoplifting offense the witness committed years earlier. Without Mrs. Roos' valuable testimony, the case cannot go forward, and the judge dismisses the charges against the Mansons. Afterward, Betty angrily accuses Bruce of allowing two guilty men to go free, and breaks her engagement to him. When a romance develops between Betty and Bob, Bruce becomes jealous and despondent, and starts drinking heavily. Later, the Manson brothers decide that one of their men, Carlos Jockey, has been causing too much trouble for them, and send their hit men to kill him. The Mansons' hit men shoot Carlos at a remote location in the country, but Carlos, bleeding heavily, manages to escape to the home of a nearby rancher. The rancher, who saw the two killers, takes Carlos to the district attorney. With his dying breath, Carlos names his killer and reveals the Mansons' illegal activities. When the Manson brothers tell Bruce that Carlos has informed on them, and that they are going to kill Bob, Bruce sets out to warn his rival. Bruce arrives too late, however, and is unable to prevent the Manson brothers' henchmen from running Bob's automobile off the road. Bruce is later arrested near the scene of the crime and charged with the murder. After reading about Bruce's arrest in the newspapers, the Manson brothers decide to seal Bruce's fate by planting the murder weapon in Bruce's car. A jury finds Bruce guilty of murder, and things look bad for him until the young boy who rescued Bob's dog, Major, provides Betty with evidence pointing to the Manson brothers as the killers. Betty then locates the rancher who found Carlos, but the rancher is unable to identify the men from a police lineup. When Major sees one the killers, however, he attacks him with such ferocity that he confesses his guilt on the spot. The confession leads to the arrest of the Manson brothers, and Betty resumes her romance with Bruce, who is now reformed.