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Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers(1950)

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Among the members of a jury selected at random to sit for the Los Angeles murder trial of Ernest Craig are Terry Scott, who is separated from her husband; David Campbell, married with two children; Lena Fassler, pregnant with her sixth child; Mrs. Isobel Bradford, a snobby society woman; and womanizer Robert Fisher, who is attracted to Terry. After the jury is sworn in, Judge Byron sequesters the jury. At dinner, despite warnings not to discuss the case among themselves, most jurors express their belief that Craig murdered his wife when she refused to give him a divorce so he could marry his secretary, Eileen Marcher. Terry argues for keeping an open mind until the defendant is proven guilty. After the first day in court, the tired jurors return to their hotel suite. During a heated discussion of the case, Terry and David sneak out to the balcony, but are interrupted by Isobel and Fisher. When David and Isobel agree that Craig's desertion of his wife might indicate his guilt, Terry accuses them of being smug and opinionated. Tempers flare when jurors are forced to share crowded bedrooms and bathrooms. Later, when Fisher speaks at length about Terry's attractiveness, David retreats to the balcony. He encounters Terry, who has also chosen to be alone. After Terry apologizes for her earlier outburst, they chat about what they would be doing if they were at home. David describes his family routine, while Terry talks about her lonely life since separating from her husband. Their intimate discussion is followed by a passionate kiss. As the trial continues, David arranges with the bailiff to take a private walk on the hotel roof with Terry, and they profess their love for each other. The following day in court, the district attorney reads a love letter from Craig to Eileen, which greatly upsets Terry. During the next break, she tells David that they should stop seeing each other. The evidence against Craig mounts when his sister-in-law reports hearing him quarrel with his wife before she plunged to her death from a cliff. The jurors then are taken to see the cabin where Mrs. Craig died. With a policewoman standing in for his wife, Craig re-enacts events from the day she died, as he best remembers them. Later, Terry asks David to go back to his wife after the trial is over to make sure of his feelings. The defense then presents its case. After the jury retires to deliberate the verdict, David is elected foreman. On the first secret ballot, the jury is divided, with one juror responding "Don't know." During an oral vote, the undecided juror is revealed to be Lena, who explains that, although she does not think that Craig killed his wife, she does not know for sure, as she was not there. David explains that if she is not sure Craig is guilty, she must vote to acquit him. When one juror insists that Craig would have instinctively grabbed his wife if she had really fallen off the cliff, Terry stands close to him and pretends to faint. When he is unable to react quickly enough to break her fall, Terry's point is made, and he switches his position. Later, Isobel insists that even if Craig did not actually push his wife over the cliff, he is guilty of killing her in every way possible. When she slips and calls Craig "Ernest Bradford," however, it becomes apparent that her anger at her ex-husband has colored her opinion of Craig. At that, juror Arthur Timkin states that Craig's character points to his guilt and suggests that Terry and David's love affair has made them sympathetic to Craig. Terry then reveals that she has asked David to return to his wife. A new vote acquits Craig. After the verdict is delivered, Terry and David discuss their future and realize that a relationship based on hurting other people would never work. Terry decides that she will return to Cleveland and her husband.