Cast & Crew
Behind the Acme Theatre, where he has just watched the debut performance of actress Claudia Moore, Tony Woolrich, critic for the New York Record , and his friend, taxi driver Romeo, discover the hanged body of Claudia's millionaire uncle Jonathan. Pinned to the body is a cryptic note signed "Captain Kidd." Later, after much argument, Tony is convinced by his editor and Romeo to write about the murder and goes to interview Jonathan's brother Cecil, a noted Shakespearean actor and owner of the Gotham theater. At Cecil's apartment, Tony meets Claudia, Cecil's daughter, and is instantly attracted to her. Cecil shows up soon after, shocked and confused by news of his brother's death. Later that night, Tony learns that Peter Carney, a night watchman at a factory, has been murdered by a ranting man in period costume, who fled the scene after setting fire to the plant. A note signed "Nero" is found on the body, and Tony identifies the message as a quotation from an old play. Speculating that the killer is an actor, Tony talks with Carney's widow, who tells him that her husband used to be an electrician for Cecil's now-defunct repertory company. The next day, Claudia, who is engaged to actor John Carraby, confides to Tony that her father has been suffering memory lapses and asks Tony to speak to him about retiring. Tony agrees, but then he and Romeo trail Claudia to a costume shop, where she drops off a bundle. Posing as Claudia's driver, Romeo retrieves the bundle, which turns out to be a pirate's costume with a bullet hole in it. After Tony recalls that a man dressed as a pirate was observed near the first murder scene, he heads for the Gotham theater. There, Tony learns from the doorman that, the night before, Cecil fell ill and left halfway through his performance. The property man then admits that, during one of his scenes, Cecil fired a shot at Carraby with a pistol loaded with real bullets. After stage manager Reggie Thomas agrees with Tony that the bullet may actually have been meant for Cecil, Tony locates a playbill from an old production of Captain Kidd , done by Cecil's repertory company. Tony tracks the company's former leading lady, Mrs. Janet Buchanan, to a boardinghouse and cajoles her into confessing that twenty-five years earlier, she was married to Cecil and that Claudia is her daughter. Janet admits her suspicions that Jonathan, who also courted her, was responsible for the disappearance of actor Henry Winters, with whom she fell in love after her divorce from Cecil. Janet later found and married Henry, who had changed his name to Buchanan. Henry eventually went insane and reportedly died in an asylum. At Tony's request, Janet tries to spot members of the old repertory company at the Gotham, but fails. As he is leaving the Gotham with Janet, Tony is shot at by an unseen gunman. Shaken but unhurt, Tony escorts Claudia home, where they discover a dead man in the living room, and a note signed "Napoleon," another role once played by Cecil. After Tony discovers that the third victim was Jim Olson, a former carpenter with Cecil's repertory company, he convinces police lieutenant Matty Walsh, who suspects Cecil of the crimes, to set a trap for the killer. Using a phony casting call for a benefit performance of the assassination scene from Julius Caesar , Tony hopes to lure the killer out. As the scene, which features Cecil as "Caesar," is being rehearsed, a man hurls a knife at Cecil, but is chased by Walsh and shot dead. The attacker is revealed to be Thomas, the stage manager, whom Janet recognizes as her surgically altered husband Henry. Janet theorizes that Carney and Olson had kidnapped Thomas on Jonathan's orders, and Thomas was exacting his revenge. With the murders now solved, Cecil thanks Tony for his help, and Tony is hopeful that Claudia will soon leave Carraby for him.
William A. Calihan Jr.
In September 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that director Al Herman was to be the associate producer on the picture. Only Martin Mooney is credited as associate producer onscreen, however. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Iris Adrian in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.