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Philo Vance Returns

Philo Vance Returns(1947)

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Crying Boy

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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As soon as Los Angeles millionaire Larry Blendon becomes engaged to singer Virginia Berneaux, he introduces her to his grandmother Stella. Stella, who lives with Larry in the Blendon estate, feels compelled to show Virginia the "family skeltons," a portrait gallery featuring Larry's four ex-wives and one former fiancée, fan dancer Choo-Choo Divine. Although Stella gently advises Virginia not to marry her grandson, Virginia is confident that she will be the last Mrs. Larry Blendon. Later that night, however, after Larry drops her at home, Virginia is shot and killed by an unseen assailant. Then, while a distressed Larry calls his friend, private detective Philo Vance, from his home, he, too, is shot. From Stella, Philo learns that Larry had stipulated in his will that, upon his death, all of his ex-wives and Choo-Choo would divide up his two-million dollar inheritance. As Philo is talking with Stella, he discovers the body of Larry's first wife, Catherine Corbett, propped behind a doorway. Philo then catches Alexis Carnova, Virginia's Russian manager and singing coach, sneaking around outside. The sword-wielding Alexis admits that he came to the estate to challenge Larry to a duel for stealing his protegee, but insists he did not kill him. Later that night, Alexis begs Philo for the chance to help in the investigation, and Philo agrees, sending him the next day to see Larry's second wife, Agatha Cowle. When Alexis reports back that Agatha was not at home, but that her mail was piled up on her doorstep, Philo becomes suspicious and breaks into Agatha's house. There, Philo and Alexis discover Agatha's body and then catch George Hullman, the Blendons' lawyer, lurking in the house. After George convinces Philo that he came only to retrieve a potentially scandalous contract he had with Agatha, he tells Philo about Larry's third wife, Lorena Simms, who lives in a sanitarium. The police then inform Philo that Agatha was poisoned by her bubble bath. The next day, after Alexis poses as a cosmetics salesmen in order to question Choo-Choo, he and Philo discover that Lorena has fled to the Blendon estate. The dazed Lorena insists that her second husband, antique dealer George Simms, abused her mentally and forced her into the sanitarium. As she finishes her story, Lorena suddenly collapses, but is resuscitated by the quick-thinking Philo, who declares that the ex-Mrs. Blendon was poisoned by her lipstick. Suspecting that Lorena's husband is in financial trouble, Philo and Alexis then break into his antique shop to inspect his books. To their susprise, Stella is also there, having just spoken to Simms, whom, she reveals, she has known for many years. After Stella leaves, Philo and Alexis are forced to hide when Simms and Helen Varney, Larry's fourth wife, unexpectedly arrive. Philo and Alexis overhear Simms and Helen, a nurse, arguing about Lorena. Simms, who paid Helen and a doctor $25,000 to keep Lorena in the sanitarium, is upset because now he cannot declare her incompetent and collect her share of Larry's inheritance. When Philo and Alexis later emerge from their hiding place, they discover that Simms has been stabbed to death. Then, while Philo and Alexis question Helen's physician cohort at the sanitarium, Helen shows up and, after applying some lipstick, collapses, just as Lorena had. Learning that Helen had earlier left her lipstick with Stella, Philo declares that the old woman is the killer and rushes to the Blendon estate. On the way, Philo shows Alexis a cryptic blackmail note that Simms had written to Stella, demanding $50,000 for his silence. Philo and Alexis arrive at the estate just as Stella is cajoling Lorena to drink some poisoned milk. Thus cornered, Stella confesses that after Catherine shot Larry and Virginia, she shot Catherine and then poisoned Agatha, Lorena and Helen because she felt that all of Larry's ex-wives had humiliated him through divorce. Stella then admits that she stabbed Simms because he threatened to reveal that she once was a chemist. The mystery solved, Philo leaves for his next assignment.