Cast & Crew
Architect Jimmy McMillan is parked in front of the Hamilton Court shops when he hears a gunshot and sees a young woman run out of the courtyard and jump in his car. The woman orders him at gunpoint to speed away, and after forcing the car to swerve off the road and crash, she jumps out and disappears. Upon returning to the scene of the shots, Jimmy discovers a corpse in the hallway and reports the murder to police captain William Jaffe. Jaffe dispatches his men to investigate, but when they find a tall, tuxedoed corpse instead of a short, stocky man in a checkered suit, as Jimmy described him, Jaffe becomes suspicious. After the victim is identified as Horace Donn, the lawyer for the late Hilda Hamilton, the owner of Hamilton Court, Jaffe summons Hilda's heir, Mary Rawling, to the police station. When Jimmy recognizes Mary as the hijacker of his car, Mary explains that she had been at her aunt's apartment when she heard a gunshot and ran into the courtyard. Mary admits that she had opened her aunt's safe to remove the deed to Hamilton Court in order to prevent Donn, her nemesis, from destroying it, causing Jaffe to suspect her, too. Upon leaving the police station, Mary returns to her millinery shop in the courtyard, and Jimmy follows her there to demand payment for his car repairs. When Jimmy mentions that her aunt's safe was empty by the time he and Jaffe arrived at the apartment, Mary suggests that the theft of her aunt's jewelry may have been the motive for murder. Deciding to conduct his own investigation, Jimmy visits the other shopkeepers in the courtyard. Donald Adams, an antique dealer, recalls that on the night of the murder, a rare Egyptian chest was stolen from his shop. After leaving Adams' store, Jimmy peers inside the shop owned by silversmith Claude Burns and observes Burns measuring some precious metals on his scale. Jimmy tells Mary that he thinks that Burns may have stolen the jewels and hidden them in the cellar beneath the courtyard. That night, the two then descend into the cellar, and when Jimmy notices some new nails pounded into the old wallboard, he pries loose the wallboard and finds Adams' chest, with the body of the short man in the checkered suit stuffed inside. Noticing that the man's hands are wrapped in rags, mummy style, Jimmy muses that perhaps Adams, with his interest in Egyptology, is the killer. Henry Gregor, the owner of the courtyard's photography studio, hears Jimmy and Mary and invites them to his studio. There, Henry proudly exhibits his gallery of famous criminals. Pointing to a picture of Smoky Gordon, Henry notes Gordon's penchant for swindling wealthy women and then mentions that Mary's aunt knew Gordon. After leaving Henry's studio, Jimmy proceeds to the shop of furrier Charles Eaton, who admits that he was once a taxidermist. Later that afternoon, Burns asks Mary for the keys to her aunt's apartment so that he can search for the missing jewels. Soon after Burns enters the apartment, gunshots ring out and Burns staggers into the courtyard, collapses and dies. Several evenings later, Henry holds a party to celebrate a generous commission he has earned. At the party, Mary tells Jimmy that she has learned from a reporter that Mable De Rose, the owner of the perfume shop, was with Eaton at the time of Donn's murder. Later, Henry shows Jimmy a picture of Gordon's thumbprint, which he discovered while photographing the scene of a robbery the previous evening. As Henry relates that the police hope to use the photograph to apprehend Gordon, a man breaks into Mary's shop, but Mary's screams send her assailant fleeing. When Mary identifies the man as Timothy Green, the sinister handyman who tends the courtyard's gardens, Jimmy recalls seeing Green present Mable with a flower and becomes suspicious. Discovering that Green has planted a package in Mary's shop, they open it and find a certificate documenting the marriage of Gordon and Hilda as well as some jewels, which Mary claims did not belong to her aunt. Finally realizing that the corpse in the cellar is Gordon, Jimmy deduces that Donn and Gordon must have confronted each other at Hilda's apartment on the night of the murder. Jimmy then proceeds to Mable's shop, proclaiming that he knows the identity of the murderer. Soon after, Jaffe, who has received a call from an anonymous woman, informing him that the stolen jewels are in Mary's shop, arrives to arrest Mary for murder. As Jaffe drives away in the police car with Mary, she insists upon turning around and going to Mable's store. After accusing Mabel of cajoling Greene into planting the jewels in order to frame Mary, Jimmy goes to the furrier's shop to confront Eaton. When Jaffe arrives at Mable's, she confesses that Eaton told her to plant the jewels at Mary's. Jaffe then arrests Eaton, and Jimmy recounts the events of the murder: Eaton had followed Mary to her aunt's apartment, planning to steal her jewelry. After killing Donn and Gordon, Eaton, the former taxidermist, stole the chest, stuffed Gordon's body inside and then removed the skin from his thumbs, intending to cast suspicion on him by planting his thumbprints around town. Jimmy concludes that when Burns discovered that Eaton had stolen the jewelry, Eaton killed him, too. Eaton then confesses that Gordon's thumbskin and the jewels are hidden in his safe.
Charles Henkel Jr.
Arthur B. Smith
Although the character played by Gregory Gaye is listed as "Henry Butler" in onscreen credits and the Variety review, in the film's dialogue he is addressed as "Henry Gregor." A May 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that the courtyard shopping area in the film is similiar to Hollywood's Crossroads of the World center.