The Spider


1h 1m 1945

Brief Synopsis

An ex-cop who is now a private detective is hired by a woman to be the go-between in retrieving an important envelope from her partner. The detective has the partner come to his apartment to give him the envelope, but someone sneaks into his apartment and strangles her while the detective is in another room. Fearful that the police will suspect him of the murder, he brings the woman's body back to her own apartment, but the police find out and suspect him of the murder anyway. He must find out who is framing him for the murder and why, before the police catch him.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 1945
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Spider by Charles Fulton Oursler and Lowell Brentano (New York, 22 Mar 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,468ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

Former policeman Chris Conlon, who now works as a private detective with his partner, Florence Cain, is relaxing in a New Orleans bar when a mysterious woman approaches and tells him that Florence is holding an envelope for her. The woman gives Chris a fifty-dollar retainer and the brooch that Florence said would be the price of the envelope, the contents of which the woman will not reveal to Chris. Angry that Florence appears to be "shaking down" the woman, to whom Chris is attracted, Chris confronts her when she later comes to his apartment. Florence brushes off his accusations, however, and goes into his bedroom to freshen up her makeup. While Chris is in the kitchen, Florence is strangled to death by an unseen assailant. Afraid that he will be accused of the crime, Chris moves Florence's body to her apartment with the assistance of his devoted black servant, Henry. Chris searches for the woman, only to discover that she gave him a false name. Chris is then questioned by police lieutenant Walter Castle, who suspects him of killing Florence. Chris brazens his way through the interview, and back in his office, is confronted by a man demanding the envelope. When the man pulls a gun on Chris, Henry knocks him out, and his identification reveals him to be Mihail Barak, a Romanian. Barak escapes but Chris tracks him to the theater where he is working for The Great Garonne, a mind-reader. While Garonne rehearses his act, Chris recognizes his assistant, Lila Neilson, as the woman from the bar. When Chris questions her, she admits that Florence came to her dressing room one afternoon, saying that she had information about Lila's long-lost sister. Lila's sister had disappeared a year after she married the current Garonne, who took over the act from Lila's father. Although Lila believes her sister has been in South America for a number of years, Florence claimed to have proof that she was murdered. Chris then searches Florence's apartment for the envelope, which he finds to contain old newspaper clippings about the last time Garonne played in New Orleans, when Lila's sister appeared as his assistant and was billed as The Spider Woman. Further investigation reveals that Florence believed Lila's sister to be an unidentified woman who was murdered five years before. Chris goes to the hotel where the dead woman was last seen, and Henri Dutrelle, the proprietor, states that he would be able to recognize Eric Campbell, the man who checked in with the woman, signed the register and disappeared after her body was found. Chris gives Dutrelle tickets to that evening's performance of Garonne's show, but while he is dressing, Dutrelle is strangled. Chris is arrested for Florence and Dutrelle's murders, and when Lila visits him in jail, he asks her to get Garonne to write the name "Eric Campbell" so that he can compare his writing to that on Dutrelle's register. After the show, Lila tricks Garonne into writing the name on a package, and after Chris escapes from jail, he confirms that the two signatures are the same, and that Garonne must be the killer. When Castle, chasing Chris, arrives at Lila's hotel, Garonne is captured, and Chris's deduction that he murdered Lila's sister, then killed Florence and Dutrelle to cover up the first crime, is proven correct. Later, when Lila goes to the bar to see Chris, Henry remarks that this is the way it all started before.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 1945
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Spider by Charles Fulton Oursler and Lowell Brentano (New York, 22 Mar 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,468ft (6 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the play was based in part on the short story "The Man with the Miracle Mind" by Samri Finkelle, pseudonym of Charles Fulton Oursler. Although the legal files and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also located at UCLA, indicate that Anthony Coldewey and Ben Simkhovitch worked on versions of the film's screenplay, the extent of their contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. The play was previously filmed by Fox Film Corp. in 1931. Also titled The Spider, the earlier version was directed by William C. Menzies and Kenneth MacKenna and starred Edmund Lowe and Lois Moran (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4257).