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One on Top of the Other

One on Top of the Other(1972)

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Remind Me

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Dr. George Dumurrier runs the Dumurrier Clinic with his brother Henry. To raise money for the failing clinic, the brash, charming George announces to the press that he is planning the world's first heart transplant. At his palatial home, George hires a nurse to care for his estranged wife Susan, who suffers from severe asthma. Susan, however, vents her hatred toward George, saying she wants only her sister Martha to remain at her side. After warning the new nurse never to confuse Susan's asthma medication with her powerful tranquilizers, George leaves on a supposed business trip, which in reality is an excuse to spend the weekend with his lover, erotic photographer Jane Bleeker. After they make love, Jane tells George that because their arrangement is too painful to her, the relationship must end. She plans to move to San Luis Obispo to get away from him, and he drops her at the train station, but then impulsively drives to San Luis Obispo in order to meet her as she disembarks. She falls into his arms, but despairs that, because he will never leave his sick wife, the relationship is still doomed. They stop in Reno, where George receives news that Susan has died. At home, he learns that after she sent away the nurse, Susan had a fatal asthma attack. After glancing at her dead body, George accepts a tranquilizer from Henry and falls into blissful unconsciousness. Weeks later, George wonders to Jane why Susan, who had grown to despise him, left him a two million dollar insurance policy. After he uses the money to pay off the clinic's debts, a representative of the insurance agency begins following George around town, suspicious about the policy. At dinner with Jane, George receives a mysterious phone call that instructs him to examine a poster behind him. It shows Monica Weston, a striptease dancer who looks exactly like Susan, except that Monica is blonde instead of brunette and has green eyes instead of brown. George makes an excuse to Jane and heads to the dance club, not knowing that both Jane and the agent are following. At the club, Monica performs her act, after which George invites her to his table. When Jane arrives, George admits that he came to see Monica. The stripper joins them at their table, and assuming they want to hire her for a ménage à trois, offers her services. However, when they stare at her intently, she strides away. Later, George hires Monica as a prostitute, hoping to gather more clues to her identity. At her apartment, he notes a bottle of tranquilizers on her bedside table, then makes love to her, seeing Susan's face in his mind. Afterward, Monica's friend visits to retrieve the tranquilizers, which she says she lent Monica earlier. The phone then rings, and when George answers it, he hears Jane ask for Monica. Soon after, he questions Jane, who states that she wondered if Monica and Susan were one and the same. As Jane's partner Larry projects photos of models to inspect, George recognizes one as the nurse hired the night of Susan's death. Meanwhile, the insurance agent informs the police that George seemed irreproachable until he was seen cavorting with a woman who looks exactly like Susan, and Inspector Wald opens an investigation into the case. After Monica is arrested and her apartment searched, Benjamin Wormser, a milquetoast who loves her obsessively, becomes concerned. The police find a piece of paper in Monica's drawer with Susan's signature on it, and upon questioning her, she breaks down and admits that a woman named Betty hired her to pose as Susan and take out a large insurance policy. The police, knowing that only George benefited from the policy, suspect his involvement and have Susan's body exhumed to determine if she was murdered. Finding evidence of a tranquilizer overdose, they search Monica's apartment again and this time find an envelope of money bearing George's fingerprints. While Jane identifies the model-nurse as Elizabeth O'Neill, Benjamin raises $2,000 for Monica's bail, only to discover that she has paid her own way out of jail. When she cruelly rejects him, he threatens to kill her. Larry then hires Monica for a photo session, during which Jane shows her Elizabeth's photograph and asks to meet her. When Monica states that she knows Elizabeth but cannot locate her, George brings the girl's picture to Wald, who dismisses it, stating that only George had a motive for the crime. George is tried and sentenced to death, during which time Monica flies to Paris, along the way removing her blonde wig and green contacts, revealing herself to be Susan in disguise. Henry visits George in jail and there confesses that he and Susan planned the subterfuge and framed George, by killing Elizabeth and, after George saw Susan laid out on the deathbed, substituting the nurse's body for Susan's. With Martha as an accomplice, Henry, who had long despised George for marrying his beloved Susan and inheriting the clinic, coached Susan on faking an asthmatic condition, developing a career as a stripper and planting all the evidence against George. Knowing that his brother will accuse him, Henry points out that no one will believe George because of his reputation for creating attention-grabbing stories, such as the heart transplant ruse. As Henry has predicted, George receives only a twenty-four-hour stay of execution, during which time Jane and his lawyer, Mitchell, attempt to prove that the dead girl is not Susan. However, Henry has switched Susan's dental records with Elizabeth's, thwarting their attempt. On the day of his execution, George is led to the gas chamber and administered last rites. At that moment, Susan and Henry meet in Paris, not realizing that Benjamin has followed her. When Benjamin sees them together, he shoots them both, and the French police call San Quentin to inform them that Susan's body has just been discovered. George is then exonerated moments before his execution.