Cast & Crew
During the curtain call of a new Broadway murder mystery, leading lady Fiona McClair and the play's arrogant author and leading man Cory Williams take their bows. Afterward, at a post-performance dinner, Cory, who is enamored of Fiona, calculates his profits, thus amusing press agent Melinda Matthews, financial backer Henry Trigg and producer Gregory Nivens. Also present at the restaurant is Longacre Lil, a cantankerous old panhandler who promises the Broadway denizens success in exchange for a donation to her club. When Lil offers to sell Cory a membership, he insults her by calling her a witch doctor. In revenge, Lil follows Cory, ridiculing him as he walks down the street with Fiona. When a tramp accosts Fiona, Cory slugs the man, and by the time the police arrive, the tramp is dead. Passerby Supal George, a witness to the altercation as well as an old friend of Cory's, states that the man died from snake venom, prompting Lil to gleefully volunteer to the police that Cory's new play deals with the use of snake venom as a murder weapon. When he is taken to headquarters for questioning, Cory alienates Detective Lieutenant Tabor and Sgt. Southcote with his insolence. Released for lack of evidence, Cory confides to George that his impertinence is really a strategy designed to draw attention to himself. At a large dinner party hosted by Cory the next evening, Fiona speaks privately with drama critic O'Dell Gissing, begging him not to break off their love affair. After Gissing spurns Fiona, Rob Slocumb, a failed theatrical promoter, makes an uninvited appearance at the party. Slocumb is drunk, and so Cory takes him into the bedroom to lie down. When Slocumb informs Cory that Fiona is married to him but really loves Gissing, the stunned Cory leaves the room to confide in George. Upon returning to the bedroom, Cory finds Slocumb dead, poisoned with snake venom. Although he suspects Cory of both murders, Tabor is unable to prove his guilt. The next day, when Cory questions Fiona about her relationship with Gissing, she coldly rejects him and spits out that she only encouraged his attentions to win a part in his play. Tabor, meanwhile, visits Benny, a snake tamer, to inquire about venom. After Benny informs him that several doctors, among them Dr. Ronald Blaine, physician to the stars, have been experimenting with venom as a cure for arthritis, Tabot and Southcote visit Blaine. When Tabor asks to see the venom, Blaine discovers that it is missing and surmises that it was stolen during a burglary at his office some time earlier. Their conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Gissing, informing Tabor that he has found a snake in his bedroom. As Tabor hurries to Gissing's apartment, Cory escorts Melinda home. After Melinda enters her building, Lil approaches Cory and begins to taunt him. Finding Gissing near death from an injection of snake venom, Tabor summons an ambulance. When Fiona phones Gissing, Southcote tells her about Gissing's condition, and Fiona accuses Cory of poisoning Gissing out of jealousy. After Gissing dies, the police question Cory, who claims that Lil can provide him with an alibi. When Lil denies seeing Cory on the night of Gissing's murder, the police go to the theater to arrest him. To allow Cory to escape, George and Melinda create a disturbance by firing blanks from a prop gun. Wounded by the night watchman as he flees the theater, Cory visits Blaine for treatment. When the doctor phones the police to report Cory's wound, Cory slugs him and seeks refuge at Melinda's apartment. As Cory tells Melinda that he suspects one of Fiona's ex-lovers is the murderer, a radio broadcast announces that Fiona has died from a snake venom. Soon after, Lil and George appear at Melinda's door, and Cory hides in the bedroom. Taking Lil's coat and purse, Melinda places them in the bedroom for Cory to search. As Lil offers to reveal the killer's identity for $10,000, Cory rummages through her purse and discovers an old newspaper clipping praising the performance of a young snake charmer named Lil. After Melinda agrees to raise the money, Lil leaves and Cory suspects that she may be the killer. The next day, George, Cory and Melinda search Lil's apartment for evidence and find another newspaper clipping describing Blaine's experimentation with snake venom and another article detailing Blaine's earlier romance with Fiona. Deducing that Blaine's unrequited love for Fiona drove him to murder, Cory realizes that Lil must be blackmailing the doctor and decides to impersonate her voice over the telephone to trick him into confessing. Lil, meanwhile, is at Blaine's office, threatening to expose his crimes unless he pays her off. Immediately after she leaves, Cory phones, pretending to be Lil. After ascertaining that Lil is still waiting for the elevator, Blaine realizes that he is speaking to Cory and cunningly agrees to meet him at Lil's apartment, intending to kill him there. At Lil's apartment, meanwhile, as Cory, Melinda and George await Blaine, Tabor enters, and Cory overpowers him and ties him up in the back room. While Cory dresses as Lil, George and Melinda hide in the back room with Tabor. Soon after, Blaine arrives, pulls a hypodermic needle filled with venom out of his doctor's bag and attacks Cory, thus proving his guilt. George and Cory then tackle Blaine and turn him over to Tabor. Exonerated of all charges, Cory decides that he is in love with Melinda.
Veda Ann Borg
L. W. O'connell
M. W. Stoloff
Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places Blanche Yurka in the cast, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Variety review and CBCS list Sidney Blackmer's character as "George Nivens," but in the film he is called "Gregory Nivens."