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Once a Thief

Once a Thief(1950)

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Remind Me

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After fugitive Marjorie "Margie" Foster is apprehended by police in Los Angeles, she recounts the story of how she began stealing jewelry in San Francisco with her partner, Pearl: One day, after she is chased by an angry shopkeeper, Margie runs into a bus depot and is forced to board a bus bound for Los Angeles. There, Margie decides to turn over a new leaf and becomes a waitress at Eddie's Café. When a patron named Flo cannot pay for her meal, Margie gets her a job at the café. After work, Margie goes to the tailor's to pick up a dress and sees that it is ripped. Margie then drops her savings passbook on the floor, and shop owner and womanizer, Mitch Moore, picks it up and notices the balance, $866. Mitch promises to buy Margie a new dress, and then borrows money from his attendant, Gus. Later, they go out to dinner, and Mitch leaves without paying. When Mitch's last sweetheart, Nickie, threatens suicide, Mitch visits her apartment. By the time he arrives, however, Nickie has killed herself, leaving a suicide note attached to her last ten dollars, which Mitch quickly stuffs into his pocket. Later, after Margie accepts Mitch's proposal, he confesses that he may lose his business due to debt. Later, Margie and Flo raise $1,000 to help him. Mitch then sneaks into Margie's apartment and rummages through her bureau drawers until he finds a jeweled watch, a remnant from Margie's criminal days. He tries to pawn it, but the pawnbroker reveals that it is stolen. Meanwhile, at work, Margie sees a drunken Pearl stagger into the café. Afraid that Pearl will recognize her, Margie quickly goes home. A short time later, Flo also returns home, and Margie decides to confess her secret to Flo. When Margie goes over to the drawer to show Flo the watch, she realizes that it is missing. Mitch then puts the watch back and postpones their wedding, using his debts as an excuse. Now driven to steal for Mitch's sake, Margie resumes shoplifting with Pearl. When they are caught and sentenced to a women's prison, Margie thinks that Pearl turned her in. While visiting the prison with Flo, Mitch tells Margie that he has found a lawyer to appeal her conviction, but he will require a $200 retainer fee. Sometime later, Flo raises the money, while Margie begins working for the female prison dentist, Dr. Borden. During a subsequent prison visit, Flo advises Margie to forget Mitch, and Margie thinks that Flo turned her in so she could have Mitch for herself. After Margie makes up with her, Pearl drinks some of the doctor's medicinal alcohol. Later, when the doctor notices the empty bottle, she goes to call the guard, but before she can reach the phone, Margie knocks her out. She then disguises herself as the doctor and escapes. The police look for Margie at Mitch's shop, but when they uncover his bookmaking operation instead, Mitch confesses to turning Margie in. Upon learning about Mitch's betrayal, Margie robs a liquor store of $200 so she can bail him out of jail. She then drives him to a deserted area, where she pulls the gun out of her purse and kills him.