Cast & Crew
Scattergood Baines, the sage of the small New England town of Coldriver, is reviewing the town from the porch of his general store when his reverie is interrupted by the loud backfiring of an old jalopy. Dunker Gillson emerges from the car and introduces himself to Scattergood as the new owner of the town's weekly paper. When Dunker learns about Lydia and Cynthia Quentin, elderly, reclusive sisters who have not emerged from their mansion in twenty years, he decides to interview them. At the Quentin house, Dunker is greeted by Mrs. Grimes, the housekeeper, who refuses to let him see her employers. The sisters' only interest in life is their cat, Mathildy, and when the animal needs medical treatment, Mrs. Grimes insists on driving the sisters and their pet to town to visit the vet. As the sisters wait in the carriage while Mrs. Grimes locks the door to the house, someone throws a handful of pebbles at the horses, frightening the animals, which then speed down hill, overturning the carriage and killing the sisters. The death of the wealthy Quentin sisters draws national attention to the town of Coldriver, and among the reporters coming to cover the story are Gail Barclay, Sam Caldwell and Wally Collins. The deputy sheriff refuses to let the strangers into the house for the reading of the will, however, and as a result, only Dunker is present when the will is read to relatives Thaddeus, Phoebe, Selma, Rolfe and Mathew Quentin. The will stipulates that the sisters' entire fortune be left to the cat, with an allowance of fifty dollars a day to Mrs. Grimes to care for the feline. A second will provides that in the event of the cat's death and Mrs. Grimes's passing, the fortune is to go to Thaddeus, Phoebe, Lloyd, Rolfe and Selma Quentin respectively. When the lawyer inquires about the whereabouts of Lloyd Quentin, he is told that the missing relative is at sea and has not been heard from in many years. After Dunker leaves the house and gives the story to the waiting reporters, only Gail believes him. She hitches a ride to town with him, and soon the two become friends. That night, Thaddeus is found dead, poisoned by the scratch of an animal. When Mrs. Grimes reveals that the cat has disappeared, suspicion is cast upon her until Sheriff Joe Budington Tompkins declares that only Phoebe, the next in line for the inheritance, would benefit from the murder. Soon after, Mrs. Grimes is found murdered with the same marks as the previous victim. While searching the house for the missing cat, Dunker and Hipp, Scattergood's assistant, find a lynx skin with its paw freshly severed and a picture of Lloyd Quentin with a baby on his knee. Gail then discovers an object which she conceals from everyone. Behind a panel in Mrs. Grimes's room, Hipp and Dunker find Mathilda, dead with a bullet in its body. Scattergood then suggests trying to flush out the killer by making him think that the cat is still alive. At the newspaper office that night, Gail hands Dunker the missing lynx paw that she found in the cellar, and someone tries to shoot the decoy cat. The next morning, Dunker asks for Scattergood's help in trapping the killer. Later that evening at the Quentin house, in the presence of the surviving relatives and reporters, Dunker reveals that Lloyd Quentin, the missing cousin, was survived by a son. Scattergood then unveils the missing lynx paw and grabs Wally's wrist to demonstrate its lethal capabilities. When the reporter jerks his hand away, protesting that the paw is poisoned, Scattergood unmasks Wally as Lloyd Quentin, Jr., the son of the missing relative and the murderer of the Quentin sisters, Mrs. Grimes and Thaddeus. Wally attempts to escape, but is thwarted when Scattergood throws a snuff box in his face. Dunker's participation in the case increases the circulation of the paper and helps him to enlarge it into a daily. Flush with success, Dunker offers Gail the job of women's editor and Mrs. Gillson.
Jerrold T. Brandt
Michael L. Simmons
Richard Van Hessen
The working title of this film was Cat's Claw Murder Mystery. It was the fifth film in the "Scattergood Baines" series. For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry above for Scattergood Baines.