The Fatal Witness


1h 9m 1945

Film Details

Also Known As
Banquo's Chair
Release Date
Sep 15, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Aug 1945
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the radio play "Banquo's Chair" by Rupert Croft-Cooke on Suspense (CBS, 1 Jun 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Film Length
5,317ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

In London, the rich and querulous Lady Ferguson clashes yet again with her ne'er-do-well nephew, John Bedford, when she accuses him of stealing her emerald brooch. Lady Ferguson threatens to call her solicitor, Sir Malcolm Hewitt, and disinherit John, after which John storms out of the house. Lady Ferguson's ward, Priscilla Ames, tries to soothe the older woman, but to no avail. John, meanwhile, goes to a local pub and is arrested after becoming drunk and fractious. The next morning, Priscilla discovers Lady Ferguson dead in her bed and calls Scotland Yard. Inspector William Trent takes charge of the case and immediately suspects John, who was not seen coming home the previous night. Trent's suspicions appear to be unfounded, however, when John's arrest for drunkenness is discovered. Sir Hewitt bails John out, and although he admits that he hated his aunt, John maintains that he could not have killed her from his jail cell. Soon after, John secretly meets with turnkey Scoggins, who had released John from jail for an hour on the night of the murder. Scoggins now realizes why John paid to be released and re-incarcerated, and demands money for his silence. John grudgingly pays him, while at Scotland Yard, Trent ponders his theory that John deliberately got arrested in order to have an alibi. Trent confides his theory to Priscilla, with whom he is falling in love, but she refuses to believe John is guilty. Determined to shake John, Trent follows him everywhere, as well as investigating Scoggins, who is freely spending his new wealth. Scoggins decides to tap John for more money, but John strangles him after first concocting another elaborate alibi. Priscilla, who is certain that she heard John whistling along to a record in his room at the time of Scoggins' death, castigates Trent for his persistent belief in John's guilt. When Priscilla tells Trent that John destroyed his records, however, Trent is certain that John pre-recorded his whistling along with the music so that Priscilla would think he was home while he was out killing Scoggins. Determined to catch the superstitious John, Trent arranges for a dinner party on the 13th, Lady Ferguson's birthday. Trent then hires actress Vera Cavanaugh to dress as Lady Ferguson and appear as her ghost during the dinner. He warns the other guests to pretend not to see Vera, and the plan works admirably as the "ghost" frightens John into admitting his guilt. After John is taken away, however, the butler brings in a telegram from Vera that arrived before dinner. The telegram states that the actress cannot keep her engagement that evening, and Trent and Priscilla are left with the chilling knowledge that the ghost they saw was real.

Film Details

Also Known As
Banquo's Chair
Release Date
Sep 15, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Aug 1945
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the radio play "Banquo's Chair" by Rupert Croft-Cooke on Suspense (CBS, 1 Jun 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Film Length
5,317ft (6 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Banquo's Chair, which was also the title of the radio play starring Donald Crisp upon which the picture was based.