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The Cat Creeps

The Cat Creeps(1946)

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The editor of the Morning Chronicle , Sampler, receives a letter from Cora Williams stating that she has discovered $200,000 and considers it proof that the apparent suicide of Eric Goran fifteen years earlier was murder. Old Mrs. Williams is a distant relative of Walter Elliot, who was originally held in connection with Goran's death, but never indicted. Sampler is determined to dig up dirt on Elliot, who is running for the Senate against Sampler's brother-in-law, and assigns the job to top reporter Terry Nichols. Terry initially refuses, as he is dating Elliot's daughter Gay, but when Sampler threatens to re-assign the story to Terry's competitor, he gives in. Before beginning the official investigation, Terry warns Elliot about the Chronicle 's plan, but Elliot denies having anything to do with Goran's death. After Terry leaves, Elliot contacts his attorney, Tom McGalvey, who recommends hiring detective Ken Grady, who assisted them fifteen years before. Later that evening Terry and his photographer, Pidge Lorry, stake out the dock where a secret meeting takes place between the Elliots, McGalvey, his assistant, Connie Palmer, and Grady, who are preparing to take a motor boat to the Williams house, which sits on a small island. Terry and Pidge force themselves along on the trip and when the group arrives on the island and enters the darkened house, they discover Mrs. Williams unconscious, with only her pet black cat nearby. Grady has Connie sit with the older woman and take note of anything she might say. When Gay tries to go for a doctor, she discovers the motor boat inexplicably on fire, stranding everyone on the island. Back at the house, Connie and Grady overhear Mrs. Williams mutter that the money is in "the little house." When Connie, who is morbidly frightened of cats, sees Mrs. Williams' cat by the window, she panics and faints. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Williams is discovered dead. Grady summons everyone together for questioning and the group is startled by the sudden appearance of a woman with the black cat. The woman introduces herself as the daughter of Eric Goran, Kyra, who is interested in discovering her father's killer and came to the house at the request of Mrs. Williams. When Terry takes Kyra off for questioning, Gay finds Grady's business card with Mrs. Williams' last words written on it and shows it to her father. On a hunch, Gay takes the card to compare the handwriting on it with the writing in Connie's notebook, but is knocked unconscious from behind. Connie, who fears she is suspected of Mrs. Williams' death, breaks down and offers to "confess," but flees in terror before she can be questioned. Terry finds her moments later, dead. Elliot then locates and revives Gay and both discover the business card is missing. When they inform Grady, he admits to having retrieved the card and tells the others about the clue of the "little house." After Terry surreptitiously plants a thousand dollar bill on the floor near the cat, giving the appearance that the animal has "found" the money, Kyra suggests that the cat might lead them to the remainder of the money. Individually, everyone begins searching for the "little house;" Grady goes to the tool shed; Elliot heads for the attic; and Gay, recalling a childhood dollhouse with which she used to play, goes to the basement, where the cat lingers. While searching the dollhouse, Gay is unaware she is being spied upon by someone hiding under the stairway. When Grady comes down the basement steps moments later, he is tripped by the mysterious observer and impaled on a rake. Hearing Gay's screams, the remainder of the group gathers in the basement and all suspect Elliot, who cannot account for his movements during all three murders. When the others return upstairs, the cat hovers over the dollhouse and McGalvey stays behind. Terry discovers the attorney rummaging through the dollhouse and when he accuses McGalvey of being the murderer, the two break into a fight, drawing the attention of the others. McGalvey finally confesses to having been Goran's lawyer and fronting for his bootlegging operation which shipped from the Williams' house. McGalvey killed Goran for the money, which Goran had hidden somewhere on the island. Grady and Connie discovered McGalvey's connection with Goran and blackmailed him. Terry then reveals that Kyra is an actress he hired to bring more pressure on the killer. After McGalvey is safely tied up, Pidge discovers the $200,000 in a tiny bird house outside Mrs. Williams' window.