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Early one morning, Richard Morton, an alcoholic, washed-up composer and playwright, awakens from a nightmare in which he has killed someone. Uncertain what time it is, Richard stumbles around the living room and remembers how he met his wife Emily: Six years earlier, Richard has just finished the score of his new play, Purple Like Grapes , when he learns that there is not enough money to produce it. A friend of Richard's induces wealthy socialite Emily Fletcher to back the show, and Emily, who had met Richard before and fallen in love with him, bets Richard that he will marry her if the show is a success. Back at the house, Richard muses that Emily won her bet but did not back a winner, as he has not written anything since then, despite her constant nagging. Believing that only an hour has passed since he took Emily to the airport to visit her family in Boston, Richard remembers the quarrel they had as she packed: Emily reprimands Richard for being drunk so early in the afternoon, and for wasting money on a psychoanalyst. Resenting Emily's wealth and mothering, Richard accuses her of not caring about him as a person and only wanting him to be "her genius." While Emily taunts Richard about his lack of success, he tries to arouse her jealousy by stating that he has a mistress. Emily laughs at him, and back in the present, Richard realizes that it is morning rather than evening, and therefore thirteen hours have passed since he took Emily to the airport not one. Concerned about his memory loss, Richard then recalls the last time he saw his psychiatrist, Dr. Clarke, who warned him that because of his alcoholism and latent hostility toward women, he could commit murder if he blacked out. Trying desperately to remember the previous evening, Richard realizes that he has on a tie belonging to his friend, John Harkness, and remembers driving from his Long Island home to John's apartment in New York City: At their apartment, John and his wife Laura are having a cocktail party, and although Richard is already drunk, he has yet another martini. Richard is distracted from his problems with Emily and from his upcoming date with his mistress, Lisa Muller, when he catches the eye of movie star Julie Bannon. Richard is immediately taken with the lovely, gracious Julie, who reveals that they met six years earlier, although Richard does not remember her. Julie, who is to leave for London in the morning, accepts a cab ride from Richard, and their mutual attraction grows. Richard reluctantly leaves her to meet Lisa, who is furious that he is late. Incensed by Richard's drunkenness and callousness, Lisa refuses to be placated and throws a glass of water in his face. Angered, Richard tells her that one day she will go too far, then apologizes and promises that he would never hurt her. After the weeping Lisa storms out of the restaurant, Richard calls Julie, who agrees to go with him to a club in Harlem. There, Richard gives Julie a single rose and their romance intensifies. After dinner, Julie finally reveals to Richard that she was a dancer in Purple Like Grapes and developed on crush on him that has never faded. Richard admits that he is unhappy with his wife, but fears that it is too late for him to start anew with Julie. At Richard's studio, he plays the piano for Julie, who enthusiastically declares that he could resume working if he set his mind to it. Richard lashes out at her, stating that she is just like all the other women who have pushed him to succeed. Crying, Julie declares that Richard hates women and leaves. As Richard is having another martini, Lisa phones and begs him to come to her apartment. There, Lisa attempts to make up with Richard but realizes that he has fallen in love with someone else. When she learns that the other woman is Julie, Lisa threatens to cause a scandal and ruin her reputation. Enraged, Richard comes after her, but back in the present, can remember no more. At his home, Richard fears that he killed Lisa and calls her apartment. After many rings, Lisa finally answers and assures him that he did not hurt her. Wondering if he has misremembered the argument with Lisa and could have killed Julie instead, Richard then phones her hotel, and is relieved to learn that she, too, is well. Feeling confident, Richard goes upstairs and is horrified to discover Emily's body in the bedroom. Realizing that he must have blacked out, killed Emily and then left for his date with Lisa, Richard is filled with remorse. Before he can call the police, however, Julie arrives to bid him farewell, and he makes her promise to go on with her life no matter what happens to him. After she leaves, Richard calls the purser aboard the Queen Mary , and when Julie later settles into her cabin, she is touched to find that Richard has sent her a single rose.