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Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn(1946)

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Remind Me

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When he is called to the home of a neighbor, Harriet Travers, to administer aid to Walter Foster, a diabetic who suddenly collapsed during a party, Dr. Robert Ordway, a noted psychiatrist and criminologist, uses the stricken man's own case to administer an insulin injection. Minutes later, Walter dies and Ordway summons Inspector Burns from the homicide department. Confirming Ordway's suspicion that Walter was poisoned, Burns enlists his help in solving the case and provides him with a list of guests attending the party. Ordway first visits Claire Foster, the slain man's sister, to ask the meaning of her brother's last words, "I've given you one face." When Claire expresses puzzlement, Ordway visits Jack Swayne, the proprietor of a health institute who is in love with Claire. Walter opposed Swayne's marriage to his sister, and consequently, Swayne benefited from Walter's death. After Swayne informs Ordway that Walter was suffering financial difficulties, Ordway visits the family attorney, Allen S. Tobin, for confirmation. Tobin verifies that Walter squandered his late father's estate and had been trying to borrow money from Claire. After leaving Tobin's office, Ordway receives a call from Claire, asking him to come to her home immediately. By the time Ordway arrives, however, Clarie has been kidnapped. Now investigating Claire's disappearance, Ordway next questions Harriet. When Harriet confides that she is separating from her husband Clyde and plans to sell the house, Ordway visits Alec Girard, the Travers' real estate agent. Later, Clyde drops in on Ordway and confesses that his marital problems arose from the fact that Harriet was having an affair with Walter and giving him money. After Clyde divulges that Walter was also having an intimate relationship with a woman named Connie Day, Ordway traces Connie to a mortuary owned by Karl Ganns. Ordway phones Connie to arrange a meeting, and Gypsy Corcelli, one of Ganns's employees, eavesdrops on the conversation and then locks Connie in a chamber, accusing her of being involved in a blackmail plot to extort money from Ganns. Soon after, Corcelli, posing as a man named Casper visits Ordway, claiming to be concerned about his mentally deranged brother Louie. Upon entering Ordway's office, Corcelli tells Louie, his henchman, to shoot Ordway. After Louie shoots Ordway in the face, Corcelli callously pushes Louie out an open window and states that he had escaped from an asylum. Blinded by the gunshot, Ordway later asks for an analysis of Corcelli's fingerprints, but when no prints are found on the registration card, he realizes that a plastic surgeon must be involved in the crimes. Soon after, Ordway regains his sight but continues to feign blindness to flush out the criminals. When Ordway matches the signature on Casper's registration card to that of Corcelli, a convicted felon with a completely different appearance, he deduces that Corcelli must be working for the man who reconfigured his face. After disguising himself as Pete Hastings, a wanted criminal, Ordway visits Corcelli to arrange for an operation. Corcelli sends Ordway to the mortuary, but after hearing a news bulletin reporting Hastings' death, he phones Ganns to warn him that Ordway is an impostor. When Ganns tries to inject Ordway with poison, Ordway knocks him unconscious and notifies the police to arrest both Ganns and Corcelli. After discovering the bodies of Claire and Connie at the mortuary, Ordway confers with Steiner, the county coroner. To catch the mastermind performing the surgery, Ordway, still feigning blindness, invites the suspects to a party at his house. The group departs, but Girard soon returns claiming that he left his glasses. Pouring Ordway a drink laced with poison, Girard waits until the doctor swallows it, then confesses that he killed Walter because Walter knew he was once a surgeon and was blackmailing him. In the next room, the police listen to Girard's confession over a dictaphone and arrest him, and then Steiner pumps the poison from Ordway's stomach.