Cast & Crew
In New York, after relatives of wealthy spinster Cassandra "Cassie" Denham fail in their attempt to have her judged incompetent to manage her affairs, the leader of the petitioners, nephew Garson Denham, calls on newspaper columnist Bob White, who had attended the hearing with his assistant and girl friend, Nora O'Brien. Garson, a lawyer who is anxious to control the three million dollars Cassie says she is worth, shows Bob an invitation he and the relatives have received, inviting them to spend a week at Cassie's estate in the mountains. They are instructed to arrive on a Friday at midnight and are threatened to be eliminated from Cassie's will if they fail to come. Garson sees the invitation as further proof that Cassie is crazy and fears that she plans to kill them all. Later, Garson, his wife Maxine, Tom Denham, Larry Denham and his mother Martha arrive at the estate at the specified time. As midnight strikes, Cassie and her live-in companion, Mary Denham, Garson's cousin, welcome them, and Cassie informs them that she wants to study them to determine which one of them is most worthy of receiving the bulk of her fortune. After advising them that she keeps her money in the house, she bids them goodnight. Unable to sleep, Garson goes downstairs to get a book from the library and, as he reads, a bookcase revolves, and a shadowy figure emerges and stabs him to death. The next day, after Bob learns that Garson has been killed, he, Nora and photographer Eddie drive up to the estate, where they find Sheriff Boggs has assembled everyone, including Cassie's butler, maid, chauffeur Michael and gardener, to conduct an inquiry. Cassie invites Bob and his friends to stay. Larry becomes the next murder victim and again the sheriff conducts an investigation. Both bodies disappear, but Bob finds them when they fall out of a closet in his room. By the time he brings the others upstairs, however, the bodies have disappeared again. Bob repeats his actions in his room, and the bodies fall out of the closet again. Later, while Eddie is looking around in the library, he sees the bookcase revolve and enters one side while Cassie emerges from the other. She removes a small box from a hiding place and leaves via the bookcase. Eddie then finds himself in a passageway and, when Cassie passes him, confronts her. She asks him to guard the box, which contains her cash and securities, and promises him $10,000 for doing so. She tells him that she suspects her next-door neighbor, Trowbridge Montrose, who is in love with her, of being involved in the murders. Later, while Tom talks with Mary in the garden, he is stabbed, but everyone appears to have suitable alibis. Although suspicion falls on Cassie, she states that she wants to have the murderer caught and, in private, tells Bob that she has a plan. She intends to have everyone assemble in the garden and will then set fire to the house, assuming that the murderer will give himself away by attempting to get into the house to save the money. Everyone stands by watching the house burn until Mary declares to Cassie that the money should be hers for having put up with her for years in expectation of inheriting her wealth. She also states that she has been married for over a year to Michael, her co-conspirator, who then runs off and disappears through a concealed panel in a tree trunk. However, Bob goes to the garage and greets Michael when he emerges from the tunnel into the service pit. After Michael is arrested, Cassie asks Trowbridge to marry her. Eddie returns the box and receives his reward, which turns out to be a valueless Confederate bank note. Cassie reveals that all her money is Confederate, but that Trowbridge has enough real money to support both of them. As Bob and Nora engage in a protracted kiss, Eddie comments to the audience, "The Hays Office ain't gonna like that long kiss."
J. Arthur Young
The working title of this film was Murder by Appointment. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, Roger Pryor was originally assigned a leading role in the picture, but he withdrew from the cast before production began. A Hollywood Reporter news item also places Astrid Allwyn in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.