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The Big Bluff

The Big Bluff(1955)

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Remind Me

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After New York socialite Valerie Bancroft recovers from a heart attack and goes home, her devoted secretary, Marsha Jordan, learns from Dr. Tom Harrison that despite Valerie's youth, she has only a year to live. Harrison warns Marsha that Valerie's heart can no longer withstand her constant activity and advises her to take Valerie on vacation. Marsha decides not to tell Valerie how serious her condition is, but Valerie nonetheless agrees to go to Los Angeles, and soon the two are being welcomed by Dr. Peter Kirk, a friend of Harrison. While Valerie is resting, Marsha visits the hotel's nightclub, where dancer Fritzie Darvel performs with her musician husband Don. There, Marsha, wearing Valerie's diamond earrings, catches the eye of gigolo Ricardo De Villa, who pressures her for a date. Marsha demurs and leaves, after which Rick is confronted by Fritzie, his lover, who is jealous of his attentions to other women. The following morning, Rick meets Valerie, who accepts his invitation to dinner that evening, and when he is again confronted by Fritzie, he tells her that it could be very profitable for him to become involved with a rich widow such as Valerie. Fritzie, who wants to leave Don, is reassured by Rick's passionate kisses, and that evening, Rick dines with Valerie and Marsha. Valerie, who is attracted to Rick, sends Marsha and Peter off to the theater and then goes out with Rick to some nightclubs. By 2:00 a.m., Marsha is frantic because Valerie has not yet returned, but when she arrives, Valerie assures her friend that she has not overtaxed herself. Valerie continues to spend time with the athletic Rick, until one evening, exhausted, she has another attack. Marsha summons Peter, who sedates Valerie and urges Marsha to tell Valerie the truth before she destroys herself. Vowing to protect Valerie, Marsha visits Rick, whom she does not trust, and tells him that if Valerie dies, it will be his fault. As she is leaving, Marsha sees Fritzie enter Rick's room and becomes even more suspicious. Before Marsha can return to Valerie, Rick calls and informs her of Marsha's interference, and Valerie then orders her friend to leave. Furious with Valerie's cruelty to Marsha, Peter tells her the truth about her heart, and although Valerie is stunned, she cheerfully apologizes to Marsha. When Rick rushes in, Valerie reveals her condition and asks him to marry her, and he agrees. Rick then tells Fritzie the news and assures her that after Valerie dies, they will be rich. Later, Rick and Valerie honeymoon in Hawaii, where Rick pretends to be a doting husband while keeping Valerie constantly busy. He also empties her heart medicine from its capsules and replaces it with bicarbonate of soda, but despite Rick's attempts to endanger her, Valerie is so happy that her health improves. Two months later, Rick and Valerie return to Los Angeles, where Marsha has rented a house for them. Marsha and Valerie are delighted to be reunitied, although Marsha's doubts about Rick re-surface when she and Peter accidentally discover that one of Valerie's pills contains bicarbonate. Peter calls Detective Sergeant John Fullmer to investigate, but Rick, who has realized that Marsha is aware of the tampering, ensures that they find no more evidence. Fuller drops the investigation, although Marsha urges Peter to help her protect Valerie. When Peter examines Valerie, however, he finds that she is healthier than ever, and tells Rick, who has been continuing his efforts to overtire her, that she could live for years. Determined to be rid of Valerie, Rick decides to murder her and use Fritzie as an alibi. He arranges for Fritzie to drive to Palm Springs, where she is to check into a motel, sneak out with an ashtray, two glasses and the inside doorknobs, then drive halfway back to Los Angeles, where he will meet her. While Fritzie is fulfilling her task, Rick returns home and violently quarrels with Valerie and Marsha, then storms out. Valerie is taken ill, and while Marsha puts her to bed, Rick meets Fritzie and puts his fingerprints on the items she has brought. Rick also gets an extra key to her room and gives her his tie to leave there, then sends her back to Palm Springs. Unknown to Rick, Don follows Fritzie, and while Rick is returning home, where he shoots Valerie as she lies in her bed, Don is in Palm Springs strangling Fritzie to death. When Rick attempts to join Fritzie in Palm Springs, he sees Don pursuing him, and during a high-speed chase, Don's car crashes into a tree. An hour later, Rick returns home, where he feigns surprise at the news that Valerie is dead, supposedly of suicide. Marsha hysterically accuses Rick of shooting Valerie, then placing the gun in her hand to fake suicide, but Fullmer, who is investigating, insists that they wait for the coroner to finish his examination. Rick asserts that he was in Palm Springs with Fritzie, who, he claims, was attempting to blackmail him by threatening to reveal their affair to Valerie. Rick shows Fullmer the key he has to Fritzie's hotel room, then is shocked to learn from the coroner that Valerie died of a heart attack hours before she was shot. Rick smugly asks Fullmer if anyone can be arrested for shooting a corpse, and Fullmer is forced to admit that he cannot be held for murder. Just then, however, Frank, a policeman from Palm Springs, arrives with the news of Fritzie's death. Because Rick's fingerprints were found in her room, as well as his tie, he is arrested for the crime. Rick protests that Don is the culprit, but because Don died in the automobile crash, he cannot be questioned. Fullmer and Frank then drag away the screaming Rick, and Peter and Marsha, knowing that Valerie has received justice, comfort each other.