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The Crime Doctor's Courage

The Crime Doctor's Courage(1945)


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On a mountain top cliff, bride Evelyn Carson pleads with her new husband Gordon to extend their honeymoon. Loathing the solitude of the mountains, Gordon becomes agitated and recalls a previous honeymoon in the wilds during which his first wife drowned. Unhinged by the memory, Gordon begins to struggle with Evelyn, and the cliff gives way, sending her plunging to her death. When the sheriff rules that Evelyn's death was accidental, her brother, David Lee, insists that Gordon is a homicidal maniac and demands justice for his sister's death. Some time later, Dr. Robert Ordway, the eminent psychiatrist, is vacationing in Hollywood when Kathleen Carson, an old aquaintance, asks him for help. Kathleen explains that after recently marrying Gordon Carson, she began receiving newspaper clippings regarding the strange deaths of Gordon's previous wives, and confiding that she is concerned for her own safety, asks Ordway to dinner so that he can observe her new husband. At the dinner party that night, Ordway meets Jeffers Jerome, a crime writer; Kathleen's eccentric father, John Massey; family friend Bob Rencoret and Spanish dancers Miguel and Dolores Bragga. During dinner, Gordon becomes alarmed when he notices that his ex-brother-in-law David Lee has been employed to serve the guests, and he orders Lee to leave his house. After Lee accuses him of being a murderer, Gordon, disturbed, flees the dining room and locks himself in his study. Soon after, a shot rings out, and when the study door is forced open, Gordon is found dead, shot through the head. Although Jeffers surmises that Lee's accusations drove Gordon to suicide, Ordway insists that Gordon has been murdered. The police are summoned to the Carson house, but by the time that Capt. Birch has arrived to conduct the investigation, Kathleen has disappeared. After Birch finishes questioning those present, Jeffers takes Ordway to the nightclub at which the Braggas are performing. When, during their dance, Dolores disappears and then reappears, the emcee declares that the dancers possess the power of invisibility. After the performance, Bob stops by Ordway's table and, expressing concern for Kathleen, tells the doctor that she has taken refuge at the Braggas' house and asks him to speak with her. At Ordway's request, Miguel drives the doctor to his house, which is isolated high in the hills. Finding the dwelling in a state of disrepair, Ordway is further puzzled when he sees a portrait of Miguel and his sister Dolores dated 1848. After offering Ordway a glass of drugged wine, Miguel explains that he and his sister come from a family of alchemists who have learned the secret of prolonged life. When the doctor collapses from the wine, Miguel sends Kathleen to the Carson house and instructs her to tell Birch that she fled because she was confused and believed her husband committed suicide. Upon awakening the next morning, Ordway finds a note from Miguel, informing him that Kathleen has returned home. Before leaving, Ordway prowls the Braggas' house, and in the cellar, uncovers two coffins. From the Braggas', Ordway drives to the Carson house, where Capt. Birch is in the midst of his investigation. Soon after, a messenger delivers a copy of Gordon's will, written just after his marriage, naming Kathleen his sole heir. Kathleen, having returned to her father's house after being questioned by the captain, is visited by Bob, who passionately begs her to run away and marry him. After admitting that she married Gordon only for his money, Kathleen confesses that she really loves Miguel and the two plan to marry. Disappointed, Bob visits Ordway at his hotel and charges that the Braggas are vampires because no one has ever seen them in the daylight. Ordway discounts Bob's accusation until Birch arrives and makes the same charge against the Braggas, adding that if they could become invisible, they could have easily killed Gordon. Skeptical, Ordway returns with Jeffers to Gordon's study and discovers that the bars on the window have been tampered with, thus allowing the killer to easily escape. At Ordway's request, Jeffers arranges a meeting at his apartment with Kathleen for later that night. Before going to the meeting, Ordway stops at the nightclub, and in the alley behind the building, witnesses the Braggas' servant Luga drag a heavy trunk through the back door. Following Luga, Ordway watches him extract a pulley and some ropes and then climb to a catwalk above the stage. At Jeffers' apartment, Ordway finds Kathleen waiting for him. When Jeffers fails to appear, Ordway discovers that he has been working on a manuscript charging that the Braggas are 300- year-old vampires who should have stakes driven through their hearts. Alarmed, Ordway alerts Birch to meet him at the Bragga home. There, Kathleen and Ordway finds Jeffers beaten to death. Descending into the cellar, they unearth Luga's body and the unconscious Braggas laid out in their coffins. After reviving Miguel and Dolores, Ordway hears footsteps from above, and an intruder fires at him. Just as the police arrive, Ordway pursues the intruder into the garden and, after felling him with a bullet, unmasks Bob as the murderer. Ordway then explains that the vampire angle was a publicity stunt concocted by Jeffers and clarifies that the disappearing act was engineered by Luga who, perched on the catwalk above the stage, would hoist Dolores through a trap door in the ceiling. The wounded Bob then admits to killing Carson, Luga and Jeffers, all for the love of Kathleen.