Cast & Crew
Chicago businessman, Bob Westland, accused of murdering his wife, is soon to be executed. Charlie Frazee, a lawyer, has received an anonymous note claiming the writer knows that Westland is not guilty. He has hired a private detective, Bill Crane, to find the witness and prove Westland's innocence before his scheduled execution date. Among the people concerned are Emily Lou Martin, who was to have married Westland after his divorce from his wife; Westland's partners, Richard Bolston and Woodbury; the company's bookkeeper, Amos Sprague; and Miss Bentine, the secretary. Crane reviews the events of the night of the murder. Someone claiming to be Emily phoned Westland to say that Mrs. Westland was abusing her. Westland did visit his wife, but he says she was alive when he left. Mrs. Westland's body was found inside their locked apartment, and only she and her husband had keys. Her key was found on a table inside the apartment. She was killed with a gun like the rare one owned by Westland which cannot be found. Woodbury, his partner has a similar gun, but ballistic tests prove his gun was not the murder weapon. Crane identifies the anonymous witness as Manny Grant, a minor gangster. Before Crane can question Grant, however he is shot down in a restaurant. Sprague then tells Crane that he knows something that may save Westland, but he will not be sure until the following day. Dr. Shuttle, the Westlands' next door neighbor, admits that he neglected to change his clock to daylight savings time and was therefore mistaken about the time that Westland left the apartment. This bolsters Westland's story. When Sprague is run down by a car, Crane asks the police to check everyone's alibi. Crane and his assistant Doc Williams, discover that there was a splice in Emily's phone line, which leads them to believe someone had tapped it. Frazee informs them that stolen stocks and bonds were found when Mrs. Westland's will was probated. Crane finds Westland's gun where it was thrown in the Chicago River and proves that it was not the murder weapon. He tracks down the dealer of the murder weapon. Then only minutes before the scheduled execution, Crane gathers everyone at the prison. He tells the group that Bolston and Emily are married. Bolston called the butler away the morning Mrs. Westland's body was found and while he was gone Bolston used the key that Westland had given Emily. Emily actually did make the call that took Westland from his apartment. Bolston had been substituting stolen bonds for the legal ones which Westland was selling. When his deception was on the verge of discovery, he killed Mrs. Westland and tried to throw suspicion on Westland. He was able to slip the key back into the apartment because he accompanied the police when they broke in to find the body. Westland's name is cleared, and he is released from prison.
Theodore Von Eltz
Jesse T. Bastian
John P. Fulton
The credits and synopsis were based on a studio cutting continuity and contemporary trade reviews. This was the first film in the "Crime Club" mystery series, produced by Crime Club Productions, Inc. and distributed by Universal. Two additional films featured Preston Foster as "Bill Crane," ending with The Last Warning, released on January 6, 1939. Eleven "Crime Club" films were made, ending with The Witness Vanishes, released on September 22, 1939. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index.