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Death of a Scoundrel

Death of a Scoundrel(1956)

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After Bridget Kelly, assistant to corrupt New York financier Clementi Sabourin, finds her boss dead in the bedroom of his New York mansion, she tells the police that Clementi was an evil genius, and recounts his history: Freed from a Nazi prison camp in Czechoslovakia, Clementi travels to Italy to see his brother, Gerry Monte, and learns that Gerry has opened an antique shop with Clementi's money and married his girl friend Zina. Clementi vengefully turns Gerry in as an illegal immigrant in exchange for a U.S. visa, and his brother is killed during his subsequent arrest. Just before he disembarks in New York, Clementi meets oilman Leonard Wilson, to whom he describes his theory on how to obtain wealth dishonestly. Wilson later drops his wallet while exchanging money, and Clementi follows Bridget Kelly to a bar after she picks it up. Although Wilson suspects Clementi, police do not find the wallet on him. However, Clementi later steals the wallet from Bridget when he goes home with her, and is chased into the street by her friend Jack. Jack shoots Clementi in the shoulder, and is then killed by a truck. When a doctor treats his wound with a revolutionary new medicine called penicillin, Clementi falsely endorses Wilson's $20,000 check to buy stock in the pharmaceutical company that makes the antibiotic. Clementi's investment precedes public announcement about the medical breakthrough, and he immediately earns over one hundred thousand dollars. Soon after, Clementi meets wealthy widow Ryan at the brokerage firm, and encourages her to follow his investment advice. After Mrs. Ryan also turns a profit, Clementi convinces her to pay him $20,000 for his shares, and then exchanges her check for Wilson's check. Clementi's broker, O'Hara, learns that Clementi's original check was bad and blackmails him into paying $5,000 and starting an investment business in which he is the junior partner. Clementi then buys a mansion and hires Bridget as his assistant. When Wilson's Canadian oil company starts to fail, Clementi and Bridget travel to Canada, where Clementi returns the check and offers to buy the company, after revealing that he has published Wilson's confidential financial statement and caused his stock to plummet. Clementi returns to New York while Bridget convinces Wilson to sell. Bridget later arranges to bring a newspaperman to the oil fields, just as an engineer reports that they have struck oil. Clementi sells the Wilson stock after having made a handsome profit, but the company actually strikes oil and the stock skyrockets. Mrs. Ryan is thrilled that Clementi's advice has worked to her advantage and throws him a lavish party. Clementi invites Mrs. Ryan's attractive secretary, Stephanie North, to the party, but spends most of his time flirting with Edith, the wife of wealthy department store owner Oswald Van Renassalear. Mrs. Ryan humiliates Stephanie when she discovers her at the party, and while comforting Stephanie, Clementi learns of her ambition to be an actress. The next day, he arranges to back a Broadway play on the condition that Stephanie gets the lead role, but she is unaware that he did more than just put in a good word for her. In the meantime, Clementi uses a two million dollar investment from Mrs. Ryan to create a false company called "Sabouranium," with which he plans to accept investments and then go into receivership. To everyone's surprise, Stephanie's performance is a huge success, and on the night of the opening, Clementi tries to seduce her. Stephanie mocks him and leaves, however, so he has her fired the next day. Clementi is later moved by her genuine distress and confides to Bridget that he wanted Stephanie because she is "good." After Bridget admits that she has fallen in love with him, Clementi advises her that his only interest is money, then tells the producer to reinstate Stephanie in the show. Clementi pursues a romance with Edith, and arranges for her to catch her husband and Bridget at a restaurant together. Edith later files for divorce, and Clementi makes plans to take over Oswald's company, in which she holds the controlling shares. Before he flies to Chicago to see her, however, he is confronted by Zina, who has come to avenge Gerry's death. Clementi plays on Zina's emotions and convinces her not to kill him but to join him in Chicago. Zina poisons herself after she sees Clementi with Edith, but leaves a statement accusing Clementi of her murder. Clementi is arrested for manslaughter and released on bail, but panics when his lawyer, Herbert, tells him that the district attorney intends to deport him to Czechoslovakia. Newspapers soon report that Clementi is also suspected of embezzlement, and a desperate Clementi sends for his elderly mother in Europe. Clementi's mother is thrilled that her son has finally sent for her, but her joy turns to horror when Clementi asks her to claim that he is the illegitimate son of a Swiss man, so that he will be deported to Switzerland, where he can keep his money in a private account. Clementi is rejected by his mother, and newspapers decry him as a "barbarian" who represents the moral corruption of society. Bridget leaves Clementi, and suggests that he return the money he stole from investors. At his office, Clementi signs over the stock certificates to the original buyers. O'Hara finds him in the office, and, desperate to save himself, shoots Clementi. The wounded Clementi then fatally shoots O'Hara during a struggle over the gun. Clementi stumbles home, and when his mother refuses to forgive him, he calls Bridget, begs for her forgiveness, and dies. Bridget now turns the stock certificates over to the police, and sadly leaves the mansion.