The scene opens with Barbara Stanwyck sitting in a small room surrounded by police detectives. "Yes, Yes, I killed him!" She shouts! Then the picture flashes back to several months earlier. Stanwyck is a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband, Kenneth MacKenna, is a jealous tyrant who believes that Stanwyck is having an affair. A simple trip out for cigarettes sends MacKenna over the edge. He is sure Stanwyck must be having a rendezvous with a beau.
Enough is enough and Stanwyck decides she needs a divorce. She goes looking for a lawyer. Short on cash, she ends up in the office of a low rent ambulance chaser, played by Lee Marvin. Marvin is somewhat reluctant to get involved with a divorce. "No money in it", he says. That quickly changes when Marvin hears about the $300,000 plus in negotiable bonds in hubby's wall safe.
Marvin, a real smooth talker, puts the moves on Stanwyck who falls big time for the heel. A few candlelight dinners and a couple of rounds of clutch and grab soon has Stanwyck hooked. Marvin now suggests that instead of just a divorce, Stanwyck should really get even with her husband. And of course Marvin just happens to have the "perfect" plan. They are going to fake Stanwyck's murder so it looks like MacKenna did it.
Stanwyck waits for hubby to go into one of more or less daily tirades, then flees to the house next door. MacKenna of course follows screaming he will kill her if he catches her with someone. This now gives Marvin and Stanwyck several witnesses to MacKenna's temper. A couple of days later Stanwyck slips a sleeping pill into MacKenna's nightcap. Once he is out, Stanwyck slashes her hand, spreads blood over one of her blouses and stuffs it in the fireplace.
She then empties the safe and heads off with Marvin. Marvin caches the bonds and Stanwyck at his apartment . Now they just need to wait and see what happens with MacKenna. The next morning, MacKenna calls the police to report the missing bonds and wife. The police soon find the blood soaked blouse. A quick trip around the neighbourhood gives the police plenty of reason to suspect MacKenna of Stanwyck's murder. The way the police see it, MacKenna lost his temper, killed Stanwyck, disposed of the body, tried to burn the bloody evidence and finally staged a fake robbery.
Off to jail he goes on a murder charge. Now all Marvin and Stanwyck need to do is sit tight till things cool off. Then they can split town for Brazil. Stanwyck lays low in Marvin's apartment while Marvin keeps up appearances at his office. Several months go by while they wait for MacKenna to go on trial. Stanwyck is starting to get cabin fever being cooped up. Feelings of guilt about MacKenna do not help matters. Everyday she listens to radio reports about the murder trial which just eat away at her. MacKenna is soon found guilty and sentenced to death.
Marvin now shows up with the cash from the bonds. "Our problems are solved. Pack your bags! We are heading south!" Stanwyck informs Marvin that even though MacKenna was a swine, she can't bring herself to let an innocent man be killed. She is going to go to the police and confess everything. She tells Marvin to take the cash and go, adding that she will not implicate him. Marvin of course knows she will break down and spill to his part in the scheme. Stanwyck has become a rather annoying loose end. A gun is swiftly produced and a struggle ensues. Several shots ring out and Marvin hits the floor in a heap. The picture then fades back to the detective's room with Stanwyck crying, "Yes, yes, I killed him!"
The director of this bit of film noir was Jacques Tourneur . OUT OF THE PAST, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, BERLIN EXPRESS, NIGHTFALL to just name a few of his films. The D of P was two-time Oscar winner Hal Mohr. His films include, UNDERWORLD U.S.A. THE GUNRUNNERS, THE BOSS, THE WILD ONE, BABY FACE NELSON, THE BIG NIGHT, ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST, RANCHO NOTORIOUS and WOMAN ON THE RUN.
This is an excellent little film noir with a tight story, great cast and a top-flight crew. A real winner in my books!