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A man is accused of killing a waitress he had tried to seduce with his wife''''s money.
One night, drifter Eric Stanton is forced to disembark a San Francisco-bound bus because he has not paid the full fare. Eric is let off in the small town of Walton, and when he goes to Pop's, a local diner, he finds Pop distraught over the disappearance of his beautiful waitress Stella. Retired police detective Mark Judd assures Pop that Stella will return, and soon she does appear, much to Pop's relief. Eric then leaves and, after seeing a poster for a show by "psychic" Professor Madley, convinces Madley's assistant, Joe Ellis, that he is friends with the professor. Ellis confides that ticket sales have been slow due to the influence of Clara Mills, the former mayor's daughter, who has been telling her friends not to attend. Seeing an opportunity to make money, Eric goes to the Mills house the next morning, and asks the cynical Clara to give the professor a chance. Clara dismisses Eric, saying that the professor is a charlatan, but her lovely younger sister June is intrigued by Eric, and tells Clara that Madley is merely trying to make a living. June convinces her sister to buy tickets to the show, and soon many of the townspeople follow suit. When Madley arrives in Walton, he reveals that he does not know Eric, but is nonetheless so pleased with his work that he pays him and offers him a job touring with the show. Eric accepts, then continues his pursuit of the sensuous Stella. At the show that night, Clara is horrified when Madley, pretending to speak in the voice of her late father, reveals how she was swindled by a smooth-talking man, even though she still has $25,000 of her inheritance left. After the show, Eric goes out with Stella, and although he pressures her to make love with him, she insists that she wants marriage and a home. Annoyed that Stella will not come to San Francisco with him when he joins the professor, Eric prepares to leave alone, but is so obsessed with Stella that he stays in Walton and promises her that he will find enough money to marry her. Eric then begins to court June, flattering her and goading her into dating him. June is captivated by Eric's charm, but he is infuriated when he sees Stella with jukebox vendor Dave Atkins. When Eric confronts Stella later, she shows him a new watch that she has received from a beau, although she does not specify which one. The next night, Eric goes out with June again and talks about her potential career as a musician and asks to take her to San Francisco for a concert. June falls asleep without answering, and the frustrated Eric begs Stella to run away with him, but she insists that he first obtain the money he promised. Eric goes to sleep but is awakened by a phone call from June, who asks him to accompany her and Clara to San Francisco in the morning. Clara, who is putting June's share of their inheritance in a safe deposit box, is suspicious of the glib Eric, but later that afternoon, when June and Eric reveal that they have been married, Clara reluctantly agrees to accept Eric for June's sake. When they return home, however, Eric sneaks out to see Stella, but is followed by Clara. Stella is angered by Eric's marriage, despite his assurances that he will have it annulled as soon as he gets June's money. Stella storms off, and the next morning, June confronts Eric with Clara's revelation about his meeting with Stella. Eric tries to defend himself, but June further reveals that Judd is there to question him, as Stella was murdered late the previous night. Clara tells Judd, who has been placed in charge of the investigation, that Eric was at the Mills home all night, after which Eric watches as Judd brutally beats Atkins while questioning him. Atkins admits that Stella had agreed to marry him but denies giving her the watch that was dropped by the killer as he fled the scene. Atkins' alibi holds, and Judd then turns his suspicions on Eric, who, afraid that he will be framed, flees to San Francisco. June, who loves her husband despite the evidence against him, accompanies him, and while they are talking in their hotel room, Eric finally begins to appreciate June's gentle, loving nature. Judd has June arrested when she tries to withdraw her money from the safe deposit box, but June maintains her belief in Eric's innocence. Eric grows suspicious of Judd and makes his own inquiries, after which he returns to Walton, where he confronts Judd in Pop's diner. Eric presses Judd into confessing that he gave Stella the watch and later killed her after she agreed to marry Atkins because she was tired of waiting for Judd to obtain a divorce. Wild with grief, Pop attempts to shoot Judd, but Eric stops him and the policeman is arrested. Eric tells Pop that he, too, will get over Stella, then joins June, who is waiting outside.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Dallas, TX: 7 Nov 1945; Los Angeles opening: week of 14 Dec 1945|
|Release Date:||1945||Production Date:||
35mm; nitrate; 6 reels of 6; F107-L2-3; M2858
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
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User Ratings & Review
Under-appreciated film noir
Julie L 2017-01-26
I like this film a lot; the direction, cast and camera work is top notch. The basic story is good even if the final screenplay seems to have holes in it...
It was surprising that the babe in this movie (Stella) got the shaft instead of life's easy pass although the heiress, June, was no plain Jane like...
stella wants a fella
don letta 2017-01-23
It's obvious that Zanuck felt the heat Darnell generated after the first takes. From then on, it was so long Alice.It's also obvious what scenes...