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Go Down, Death!

Go Down, Death!(1944)

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When "Big Jim" Bottom, the head of all underworld activities in a Southern town, learns that Reverend Jasper Jones, the new minister, is threatening to clean up the town, Jim hopes to stop him by setting a "preacher trap." Jim plans to frame Jones in a sex scandal and sends three "fly chicks," Minnie, Mabel and Mae, to Jones's office with instructions to escort the reverend home after services. While the notorious women meet Jones in his office and feign interest in religion to gain his confidence, Jim's henchmen break into Jones's home and wait in hiding until he and the women arrive. Jones falls for the ruse and invites the women into his home to discuss their conversion to Christianity. The situation soon becomes odd, though, when Mabel seats herself on Jones's desk and hikes up her dress. A moment later, the women hand Jones a bottle of liquor and envelop him in a kiss while Jim's men take a picture of the scene. Things look bad for Jones until Aunt Caroline, who learned of the scheme from a young boy, enters the house and demands that Jim's men destroy the film. The men ignore Caroline, push her aside and leave with the film. Caroline then returns to her home and tells Jim, whom she adopted as a child after his parents were killed by a tornado, that she knows that he is behind the frame-up. She tries in vain to change Jim's ways, but he resents her meddling and hides the picture in his safe. That night, Caroline talks to a picture of Joe, her dead husband, and asks him to help her. At that moment, Joe's ghost appears and leads Caroline into the room where the safe is located. The ghost opens the safe and Caroline removes the picture, but Jim returns to the house and catches her in the act. In an ensuing struggle, Jim strikes Caroline and she collapses. Caroline's niece, Betty, who is Jones's fiancée, is awakened from her sleep by the commotion and rushes to Caroline's aid, but Caroline is dead. At Caroline's funeral, Jones gives his famous "Go Down, Death" sermon as her coffin is being lowered into the ground. The death of Caroline proves too much for Jim's conscience to bear, and the voices he hears drive him to run as far as he can. While trying to flee from his guilty conscience, Jim sees images of himself at the gates of Hell, followed by visions of devils torturing him and plunging him into the River Styx. The next day, Jim's body is found at the head of a deserted canyon.