powered by AFI
Russell James, vice-president of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company, is suspicous of the many large double indemnity claims from the area of San Marlo, California, that his company has recently paid off. Although the death of George Sullivan of Hammond-Sullivan Realty is deemed accidental, Russell feels that Sullivan's accident occurred too soon after he and his partner, John Hammond, took out the policy. After deciding to hold up payments on the claim, Russell sends his company's investigator, Tom Davison, to the area. Tom finds Sullivan's daughter Nancy willing to cooperate with the investigation, as she is uneasy about Hammond's claims that Sullivan had a drinking problem which contributed to the fatal accident, because her father rarely drank. She also questions why Sullivan took the stairwell the night he died, when a new elevator had been recently installed. With Nancy's help, Tom gets a job at the realty company, posing as her cousin from the South. Hoping to get inside information, he is soon dating his officemate, Addie Wilson, who mysteriously tries to conceal from him that she is having an affair with Hammond. Although Addie warns Hammond that the new employee is observant, Hammond is at first more concerned about Chuck Malone, the gangster and nightclub owner to whom he owes gambling debts. When he realizes that the insurance payments are being held up and that Tom is catching on to what could be incriminating clues, Hammond tries to engineer Tom's death by manipulating the elevator so that the door opens to the elevator shaft. However, it is Addie who first steps into the elevator and falls to her death, and Hammond, who truly loves her, becomes despondent. Fearing that Hammond will confess in his fragile emotional state, Malone, who has masterminded the insurance racket, as well as Sullivan's death, and was to be paid a portion of Hammond's insurance money, decides to cut his losses and orders his thugs to murder the grieving man and leave a suicide note. Nancy, who is waiting for Tom outside the building, sees the thugs approach, but does not understand the significance of their presence until later. A romance between Tom and Nancy soon blossoms, and the two go on a date to the Night Hawk, Malone's club. There they run into Nancy's acquaintance, Jimmy Marshall, who she says, has been drinking his automobile agency into bankruptcy. Seeing that he is too inebriated to drive home, Tom and Nancy follow him out the door, where two thugs throw him in the back of his car, then drive away in two cars. Nancy and Tom follow, but find Jimmy's car wrecked by the side of the road with an unconscious Jimmy inside. After learning that he, too, had taken out a double indemnity policy with his company, Tom takes a recorder to the hospital, where Jimmy makes a statement before dying. Malone's thugs, dressed in hospital whites, enter the room, knock out Tom after a struggle, and cart him in a laundry hamper past Nancy and the nurse, who are in the hallway. After waiting a long time for Tom to record Jimmy's statement, Nancy enters the hospital room and finds Jimmy dead, and Tom and the recorder missing. She does, however, find the recording of Jimmy's statement that was left behind in the scuffle and takes it to the police. After listening to Jimmy implicating Malone and his henchmen, Chief Meyers and his men proceed with Nancy to the Night Hawk. Upon arriving, Malone's staff detains them until the mobsters can sneak out the back with Tom. Seeing a laundry truck leaving the grounds, Nancy alerts Meyers, who orders the police to chase it. After an exchange of gunfire, one of the policemen shoots the laundry truck's tire, causing the vehicle to roll over an embankment. The police arrest Malone and his men, and Tom emerges from the back of the truck unharmed. With his case solved, Tom prepares to continue his romance with Nancy.