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Shadow of Doubt

Shadow of Doubt(1935)

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Despite objections from his wealthy Aunt Melissa, New York advertising man Sim Sturdevant intends to marry motion picture actress Trenna Plaice. Melissa insists that Trenna and her lot are "the riffraff of theatre and radio," and admits that she has had the actress investigated and has learned that she is penniless. While Trenna's career is waning, Sim proposes to her and offers her a New York radio job, which she finds insulting. Trenna maintains that she is still as popular as ever and boasts that producer Len Haworth has offered her a film contract and has proposed to her. Sim, who knows that Haworth is an unscrupulous womanizer, becomes angered at the news and informs Trenna that Haworth is already engaged to debutante Lisa Bellwood. To prove Sim wrong, Trenna calls Haworth and informs him that she will accept both the contract and the marriage proposal. Lisa, who overhears her fiancé's telephone conversation with Trenna, later calls Trenna to tell her that she will be marrying Haworth the next day. That evening, Haworth takes Lisa to the Merry-Go-Round Club, where singer Inez Johnson is performing. When the drunken Haworth begins to pick a quarrel with Sim, Sim punches him. Witnessing the row is Reed Ryan, a newspaper columnist, whom Sim bribes to keep the story quiet. Lisa thanks Sim for giving Haworth what he deserved. Before leaving the nightclub, Haworth vows to take revenge on Sim, a threat overheared by the cigrette girl, who promptly relays the news to Sim. While Haworth walks back to his apartment, Trenna beats him there, relieves Ehrhardt, his butler, and then waits for Haworth to return. When Trenna realizes that Lisa has accompanied him home, she hides. Soon after arriving home, Haworth loses consciousness, and when Ehrhardt returns, he finds his boss dead of a gunshot wound. Because of his brawl with Haworth at the Merry-Go-Round that night, Sim becomes the prime suspect in the murder. It is soon learned, however, that Trenna and Lisa were in Haworth's apartment at the time of the murder. Especially concerned about the news is Lisa's millionaire father, Morgan Bellwood, who offers Ryan $10,000 to keep his daughter's name out of the papers. Ryan rejects the bribe, however, explaining that he will not betray his friend Sim. Later, Ryan finds an old newspaper clipping announcing the actress' receipt of a Luger pistol as an award for her fine marksmanship on the set of one of her films. After Trenna explains to Sim that she went to Haworth's to break off their engagement, Ryan, under the pretense of trying to protect her from police questioning, asks Trenna about her Luger, which she insists is back at her Hollywood apartment. At that moment, Ehrhardt calls Trenna and tells her that he knows who the killer is and will tell her in private at Germanti's Cafe. Trenna goes to the cafe, but Ehrhardt is murdered before he can tell her the killer's identity. Meanwhile, Aunt Melissa, who has decided to leave her home for the first time in many years, goes to Trenna's to settle matters with her. There, the distraught actress soon changes Melissa's opinion of her and convinces Melissa that the Luger either remains at her Hollywood home or has been stolen by her butler Rufus Parker. While detective Fred Wilcox searches Trenna's apartment and questions her, Melissa, who has found the Luger in Trenna's bureau, conceals the gun and leaves. Banking on the only lead she has to possibly vindicate Trenna, Melissa seeks out Parker, who, it is learned, last worked for the Bellwood's and is presumed dead. Having discovered that Ryan bought the Luger from Parker and killed Haworth out of jealousy over Haworth's attentions to Inez Johnson, with whom Ryan was infatuated, Melissa sets up an elaborate trap at the Merry-Go-Round in order to snare the killer. After Ryan is shot in the ensuing chase, he confesses to the murders.