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The Guilty

The Guilty(1947)

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In New York City, Mike Carr goes into Tim McGinniss' bar to wait for Estelle Mitchell, whom he hasn't seen since Estelle's twin sister Linda was murdered six months earlier. He then recounts for Tim the story of Linda's death: Mike's roommate, Johnny Dixon, who was in the Army with him, frequently suffers spells in which his nerves collapse. Linda and Johnny are very much in love, but Estelle, a vamp, is determined to have Johnny for herself. In the meantime, Estelle has been seeing Mike, who cannot resist her. Mike meets Linda only once, but immediately sees that she is the more virtuous of the twins. One night, Linda and Estelle quarrel over Johnny, and Linda goes to see him. Mike sees Estelle arrive at Johnny's first and stops her from meddling in Linda's love affair. When Mike returns home hours later, Estelle telephones Mike at her mother's request to say that Linda never came home and has been reported missing. Johnny, drunk and distraught, begs Mike to corroborate his alibi that he heard Linda whistle for a taxi and saw her leave. The police find a buckle from Linda's trenchcoat on Johnny's apartment floor, and after finding Linda's body in the apartment building, they take Johnny in for questioning. After Mike finds another buckle outside the bathroom window at McGinniss's, he confronts Johnny with the possibility that his memory might have failed him the night of the murder. Johnny panics when the police come to arrest him, and Mike helps him escape. In order to persuade Mike to give Johnny up, police detective Heller takes Mike to the morgue to show him Linda's body, and recounts the ghastly details of her death: After being choked, Linda was pushed, still alive, into the chute of the trash incinerator, and when he was unable to fit her in the tight space, the murderer shoved her in and broke her neck, then pulled her out and buried her in a barrel on the roof. Mike convinces Johnny to come out of hiding and clear his name, but when they return home, Estelle is waiting with Alex Tremholt, who has been a boarder at the Mitchells' since the twins were young. Mike hears a woman whistle for a taxi, and realizes that she is the woman they heard the night of the murder. Tremholt insists on calling the police to arrest Johnny, but he escapes. Heller arrives and accuses Tremholt of having a long-standing, unrequited love for Estelle and of killing Linda, whom he mistook for Estelle. Mike hurries to tell Johnny he is in the clear and stops him from hanging himself. Back in the present, Mike drags Estelle to his old apartment and insinuates that she committed the murder. When he enters the flat, however, Heller is waiting to arrest him. He reveals that Jake, the apartment janitor, recently found Linda's neck scarf in the incinerator chute with Mike's fingerprints all over it. Mike killed Linda believing she was Estelle. After telling Mike that Tremholt's arrest was only a ruse, Heller accompanies Mike down the stairs and past Estelle into the night.