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Accused of Murder

Accused of Murder(1956)

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At Cipriano's nightclub, hired killer Stan Wilbo accuses lawyer Frank Hobart of pocketing the profits from an illegal land sale he brokered for mobster Chad Bayliss. Although Wilbo tries to intimidate Frank, the latter seems distracted and threatens to tell the police about Wilbo and Bayliss's activities. After Wilbo leaves, the nightclub's new singer, Ilona Vance, visits Frank at his table and, claiming exhaustion, asks to postpone their date. When she leaves, Frank follows to her car, begging to talk, and then presents her with an expensive diamond ring. Refusing it politely, she says that she does not love him. Wilbo, who has been ordered by Bayliss to kill Frank, watches from a distance. When Frank and Ilona leave separately, Wilbo follows Frank, who drives to Ilona's apartment building. Later, at a dance hall, taxi dancer Sandra Lamoreaux hears a gunshot and a blaring car horn, and sees Wilbo walking furtively around the corner. When the bouncer explores the source of the noise, he finds Frank slumped in his car, shot dead. Police captain Art Smedley and detectives Lt. Roy Hargis and Sgt. Emmett Lackey are assigned to investigate the murder. After Sandra lies to the police that a man boasting mob connections asked her for a date earlier that night, she is asked to look at police mugshots. A receipt found in Frank's pocket prompts Roy and Lackey to check out Cipriano's. They question the doorman, and then the owner, Caesar Cipriano, who says that Frank, a regular customer, was in love with Ilona, and, without her knowledge, got her the job. When the police hear that Ilona did not reciprocate Frank's feeling, Art and, particularly, Lackey, begin to suspect her, although both the doorman and Caesar vouch for her integrity. Referring to the policemen's suspicions, the kindly Caesar jokes that Roy is a "good cop, but not a human being." When Roy and Lackey call on Ilona to question her, she claims that she heard about Frank's death on the radio. Lackey attempts to goad her into a confession, but Ilona will only admit to being in the car with Frank, and says she did not see him afterward. At the station the next day, Sandra looks at mug shots, but refrains from identifying Wilbo. While discussing the case, Roy and Art note that Ilona is an immigrant and that Frank defended clients with mob connections. Soon after, Lackey walks in triumphantly with sanitation worker Les Fuller, who found the murder weapon in a sewer near the crime scene. Lackey suggests that Ilona could have carried the gun, but Roy brushes his theory aside. At his penthouse, Bayliss pays Wilbo, who then returns to his own apartment to find Sandra waiting. Threatening to report that she saw him at the murder scene, Sandra blackmails Wilbo, but gets only $100 and a black eye for her effort. That evening, Roy and Lackey again question Ilona. When Lackey harasses her, Roy sends him out of the room. Answering Roy's questions, Ilona says she was fond of Frank, but not in love. Although she does not meet his eye when she talks, Roy believes her to be innocent. However, Lackey thinks differently, and when Roy leaves for the evening, he answers a phone message from small-time crook Whitey Pollock without telling Roy. The alcoholic Pollock saw a picture of the gun in the newspaper and claims that it was formerly owned by Nick, a deceased dance hall owner, who gave it to his employee, Ilona. On the pretense that he is saving Roy work, Lackey does not inform Roy about the situation and instead brings Pollock to the station the next day for questioning. After listening to Pollock, Roy sends him away without taking a statement, and then scolds Lackey for giving credence to a disreputable source. Lackey retorts by accusing Roy of protecting Ilona. After sending Lackey to check Ilona's immigration records and Frank's mob connections, Roy goes to her apartment. Ilona admits that she worked in a dance hall, but not at Nick's establishment. When Roy asks about the gun, she weeps, and without thinking, Roy kisses her, just as Lackey walks in. At her apartment, Sandra, drunk and bruised, calls Wilbo to demand more money and Wilbo offers to deliver it immediately. Sandra's roommate Marge, who senses trouble, pretends to leave for an appointment, but calls the police from a pay phone. When Roy responds to the call, he finds Sandra beaten unconscious. Sandra later awakens at the hospital, where she names Wilbo as her assailant and confesses that she saw him at the crime scene. Upon returning to the station, Roy finds that Ilona has been arrested. When Art accuses him of being emotionally involved in the case, Roy angrily leaves and heads for Wilbo's apartment. In an exchange of gunfire, Roy wounds Wilbo in the arm. Wilbo then confesses that he was paid by Bayliss to murder Frank, but that Ilona killed him. Later, after Sandra identifies Wilbo and proof of Frank's connection to Bayliss surfaces, Art is satisfied that Wilbo killed Frank. Art releases Ilona and brings charges against Wilbo and Bayliss, but notices that Roy remains unhappy. Outside the station, Roy explains to Ilona that Wilbo will be executed for Frank's murder, which compels Ilona to make a confession: When times were tough, she worked for Nick, who gave her the gun for protection, but she quit after he made passes at her. On the night of his death, Frank, to whom she had earlier given the gun, followed her home and convinced her to take a drive. After a few blocks, Frank, depressed by her rejection, pulled over and tried to shoot himself. Despite her attempt to intervene, the gun went off. Frightened, she threw the gun in the sewer and ran. To Roy's relief, Ilona asks to return to the station. Later, Bayliss and Wilbo are indicted for conspiracy to commit murder and Ilona is acquitted. Seeing Roy and Ilona together, Caesar tells Lackey, "the good cop is turning into a human being."