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Woman in Distress

Woman in Distress(1937)

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Dispatch reporter Fred Stevens and his colleague, art expert Stew Sadler, are sent to the home of spinster Phoebe Tuttle, who has discovered the Rembrandt painting "Montebello," long since believed destroyed, in her basement. Meanwhile, a gang of thieves headed by Jerome Culver makes plans to steal the painting in order to procure the $150,000 that is being offered for the original by a customer. At Phoebe's home, Fred and Stew encounter their Courier rival Irene Donovan, but Phoebe refuses to see any more reporters. Knowing Phoebe's love of dogs, Fred and Stew pretend to be members of a kennel club who want to publicize her dog "Mitzi's" entry in a show. Stew verifies the painting's authenticity, and Phoebe tells them it was a gift from her fiancé Frantz, who died a week before their wedding. After Fred and Stew leave, Culver, posing as a policeman, diverts Phoebe's attention while one of his henchmen exchanges her original painting with a copy. Irene returns to Phoebe's with her own art expert, Emile Duval, who says the painting is a fake. Irene phones in her story and, telling Fred nothing about it, agrees to go to dinner with him. At dinner, Fred proposes to Irene, but as they return to their hotel rooms, Phoebe arrives with the sheriff, who arrests Fred and Stew for the painting's theft. With Fred in jail, Irene and Phoebe fly to New York and Phoebe recognizes a police mug shot of the "policeman" Culver. The police find a "Montebello" in Culver's room, but it is missing the "MODS" insignia, which is on the original, and Phoebe says it is not hers. Meanwhile, Culver's buyer has lost interest in buying such a newsworthy piece, and Fred, who has been released, fears that Phoebe may be in danger since she is the only one who can identify the original. Fred and Stew find the masterpiece, and as they drive to Phoebe's for confirmation, they pass Culver at a roadside telephone activating a fuse, which sets Phoebe's house ablaze. Phoebe and Irene have been drugged and left in the house to die, but Fred arrives in time to save them. Phoebe confirms that the painting is the original and tells them that "MODS" is the acronym for "My Own Dear Sweetheart." Irene lets Fred have this scoop while she scoops him with news of their engagement.