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The Leopard Man

The Leopard Man(1943)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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At a nightclub in a small New Mexican town, Clo-Clo, an exotic Latin dancer, upstages the performance of Kiki Walker. To draw attention to his client, Kiki's press agent, Jerry Manning, rents a black leopard for her to use in the act. As Kiki leads the leopard onstage, however, it becomes frightened by the sounds of Clo-Clo's castanets and escapes. That night, as Clo-Clo walks home from the club, she passes the Delgado house. Inside, Mrs. Delgado orders her daughter Teresa to go to the store, and when the little girl protests that she is terrified to go outside because of the leopard, her mother pushes her out the door. Upon finding the village store closed for the evening, Teresa is forced to cross the arroyo to shop at another store. On her way home, the leopard emerges from the shadows and attacks her. Running home, Teresa cries for her mother to open the door, but when the lock becomes stuck, Mrs. Delgado can only watch in horror as her daughter's blood seeps under the door. The next day, the sheriff, Chief Roblos, organizes a posse to search for the beast, and during the hunt, Jerry meets Dr. Galbraith, the curator of an Indian museum. That night, at the club, a fortune-teller reads Clo-Clo's cards and fortells that the dancer will receive a sum of money from a rich man, after which the "black card of death" will follow. The next morning at a flower vendor, Clo-Clo meets Rosita, the maid to Consuelo Contreras, a young noblewoman. Rosita brings flowers to her mistress in honor of her birthday, and later that afternoon, Consuelo visits a cemetery to keep a secret rendezvous with her lover, Raoul Belmonte. When Raoul is late for their meeting, Consuelo is locked within the cemetery walls by the gatekeeper. As night falls and the wind begins to howl, Consuelo calls for help and is answered by a man who promises to return with a ladder. Before he comes back, however, Consuelo hears a rustling in the trees and screams in terror. The next day, when Consuelo's body is found clawed to death, Galbraith and Roblos are certain that she was assaulted by the leopard. Jerry begins to have doubts, however, and goes to speak with the cat's owner, an Indian named Charlie How-Come. After Charlie, who rented the animal to Jerry, assures him that the cat is not vicious, Jerry takes Charlie to the museum to consult with Galbraith. When Jerry proposes that Consuelo's assailant was human, Galbraith suggests that Charlie could have killed the girl when he was drunk. Fearful that Galbraith might be right, Charlie insists upon being jailed for murder. That night at the club, Clo-Clo meets a wealthy old man who gives her a $100 bill. On her way home, she visits the fortune-teller, who once again uncovers the black card of death. After arriving safely home, Clo-Clo discovers that she has lost her money and ventures back onto the street to retrieve it. There, after hearing the shuffle of footsteps, Clo-Clo stares in horror as her attacker lunges from the dark. After Clo-Clo's death, Roblos sends for the state hunter and Charlie is exonerated. Jerry and Kiki plan to leave for Chicago, but when Galbraith sends Kiki a farewell bouquet of flowers, she feels compelled to place them at the site of Consuelo's murder in the cemetery. There, Kiki confesses her love to Jerry and insists upon staying in town to catch the killer. When Charlie finds his leopard dead, lying by the side of the arroyo, Jerry remembers that he saw Galbraith enter the arroyo and tells Roblos that the curator killed the animal. Roblos refuses to arrest Galbraith without evidence, however, and so Jerry seeks Raoul's help in exposing the murderer. That night, during the rites of a religious procession, Galbraith walks along the street toward the museum. As he passes the cemetery, he hears a woman's screams followed by the clicking of castanets. Panicking, Galbraith rushes to the museum, and soon after, Kiki arrives to watch the procession pass. When she insists upon turning off the lights to better see the procession, Kiki drops a pair of castanets, causing Galbraith to flee and join the marchers. Jerry and Raoul follow and subdue Galbraith, who then confesses to murdering Consuelo and Clo-Clo after watching the leopard maul Teresa. Out of revenge for his lost love, Raoul shoots Galbraith, and later, outside the funeral parlor, Jerry and Kiki reaffirm their love for each other.