Humphrey Bogart stars as Sherry Scott, manager of a radio station with aspirations for more. Scott plays it with cultured programming and music. The owner, Bertram C. Reynolds(Robert Middlemas), wants better ratings, which of course translates to more money, and orders him to revive a twenty year old murder case in a fifteen episode serial. The woman involved had killed her husband and was on trial for murder, but was acquitted of all charges: self-defense was the verdict. Not good enough for Reynolds.
The show was to be called Sins of The Family. A sleazy writer is brought in. Dr. Martin Leavenworth(Harry Hayden). He pries into the family representing himself as a minister. They ask him for help when they hear about the announced program. The daughter knows nothing of her mother’s past.
The woman had changed her name and remarried shortly after the trial. She’s Martha Carstairs(Helen McKeller) now and married to a banker. They have a daughter about to get married to Malcolm Sims, Jr., son of a rich steel family.
Scott(Bogart) doesn’t like the whole idea to start with. The woman had been acquitted and the station intends to play it up as a murder. Leavenworth, without even meeting the daughter, has declared her as bad as her mother and about to ruin a young man’s life.
The film boils down to destroying a family in the name of money. When the girl’s parents commit suicide, all avenues had been for help closed it seemed(the father’s bank had asked for his resignation to protect the establishment’s reputation), it sets things off. Reynolds wants to buy the daughter off to air the program. The station had already been under investigation by the Feds for unsavory practices. Scott and his secretary are willing to testify.
Thank goodness the young man she’s marrying has a backbone. Mother and father are putting pressure on him not to marry to daughter of a murderer, not good for the family image, but he resists, even in the face of threats to cut him off if he goes through with it.
The title could represent them or Scott and his secretary.
Based on a 1932 play A DANGEROUS SET, I watched it on Turner Classic under the title ONE FATAL HOUR. A short film, just under an hour, wikipedia says it has been edited and I’m not sure if an uncut print exists anymore.
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