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Miami, 1946: Even though he is down on his luck & out of money, Scott
(Robert Cummings), finding a wallet containing some 80 Dollars, decides to
bring it back to its rightful owner, Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran), & out of
gratitude, Roman offers him a job as his chauffeur. & even though Roman
clearly is a sadist & a gangster, & Roman's right-hand man Gino (Peter
Lorre) doesn't like him one bit, Scott gladly accepts.
Soon Scott becomes
acquainted with Roman's wife Lorna (Michèle Morgan) too, who is clearly
unhappy in her marriage & who has Scott take her for extensive drives top
the seaside , where she confides in him, & persuades him to take her to
Havannah, away from Roman.
Scott makes all the necessary preperations to make
a unnoticed getaway with his boss's wife, & even though Roman & Gino
seem to begin to suspect something, everything somehow works out & the two
are on a boat to Havannah, & even a tender romance starts ...
though, visiting a bar, Lorna is stabbed to death in public, & the only
(logical) suspect is Scott, & he is of course arrested by the police. And
however hard he tries to prove his innocence, every evidence he comes up with
rather unexpectedly points even more to his direction ... so Scott makes a
swift getaway, & tries to hunt down a few clues on his own: a photographer
whom he saw in the bar & who might have photographed something, but who
turns up dead once Scott finds him, & a souvenir-shop owner who has given
the police a false testimonial against Scott ... which is where Scott meets
Gino again, & Gino kills him in cold blood and ...
Scott wakes up in
Miami, still wearing his chauffeur's uniform, but unable to remember anything
of the story but being killed in Havannah. In desperation, Scott calls
Commander Davidson (Jack Holt), an army doctor, & it turns out that Scott
is suffering from anxiety neurosis caused by his war-experiences. Slowly Scott
tries to figure out what has happened (& how much of it is true), while he
knows he has to do something at 9 o'clock, but has no idea what ... which
becomes clear when the narration switches to Roman's house, where Lorna is
desperately waiting for Scott to fetch her (in vain of course), while Roman,
having figured something definitely is wrong, locks her in before going out
with Gino ...
Only slowly it begins to dawn on Scott that he actually did
want to accompany Lorna to Havannah, & eventually he even goes to fetch
her, freeing her from Roman's prison ... but it might be too late since Roman
has learned from an acquaintance that Scott did buy tickets to Havannah the
same afternoon, & desperately he & Gino try to get to the pier before
Scott's & Lorna's ship can leave for Havannah ... so desperately so that
their car crashes with a train, finally setting Lorna & Scott free ...
great, largely overlooked film noir, that features quite a clever plottwist to
turn the story topsy turvy (granted, the "it was all a
dream"-plottwist wasn't entirely new even back then, but it was hardly
ever used in such an imaginative way), taking the "a man tries to prove
his innocence"-formula into a completely new direction, & it all works
without letting the tension drop. All-around great performances of course do
not hurt either.