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The Great Swindle

The Great Swindle(1941)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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Jack Regan, an investigator for the Hanniball Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and his assistant, Bill Farrow, search the ruins of the destroyed Ajax Warehouse for evidence of arson. After discovering that someone has tampered with the electrical wiring in the warehouse, they report the information to their boss, Thomas Marshall. When Swann, the owner of the warehouse, calls for his insurance claim, Marshall informs him that Regan has unearthed evidence of foul play, sending Swann into a rage. Marshall reveals to Swann that Regan took a photograph of the tampered wiring, which he will present as evidence once it is developed. When Swann tells Stewart Cordell, the owner of the Cordell Investment Company, that unless Marshall pays his claim, he will be unable to meet his note to Cordell, Cordell agrees to intervene on his behalf. Meanwhile, in a bar, arsonists "Rocky" Andrews and "Capper" Smith wait for Dave Lennox, the man who hired them to torch the warehouse. Lennox arrives, furious, and chastises them for bungling the job. After informing them about Regan's photograph, he tells them they will not be paid until they produce the incriminating photo. Capper and Rocky steal the picture from Regan's office, then go to the warehouse to finish destroying the building. There they meet Regan and Farrow and a fight ensues. The criminals escape, but not before Farrow catches a glimpse of Rocky's face. In hopes of identifying the fugitive, Farrow goes to police headquarters to look at mug shots while Regan goes to Marshall's office. Their conversation is interrupted when Cordell, who has come to plead Swann's case, arrives and demands to see the photograph. After Regan announces that the photo is missing, Cordell insists that Marshall pay Swann. When Marshall admits that he does not have the resources to cover the claim, Cordell offers to take over the insurance company in exchange for settling Swann's claim. Upon assuming control of the company, Cordell fires Regan and offers Swann only partial payment on his claim. Suspecting Swann of the arson, Regan tries to trap him by phoning Swann and, while claiming to be Rocky, demanding the rest of his pay-off. When Swann reacts with horror, Regan realizes that he is innocent and asks Cordell to help him find the arsonist. After confiding to Regan that he suspects Swann of embezzlement, Cordell asks him to search Swann's house for some missing bonds. Meanwhile, Lennox, following the instructions of Cordell, his boss, hides the photo in Swanns's house, hoping to implicate Swann in the crime. When Swann's wife finds the photo, however, suspicion focuses on Cordell. After placing a tap on Cordell's phone, the district attorney listens to an incriminating phone conversation between Cordell and Rocky and Capper and issues a warrant for their arrest. Lennox is shot while resisting arrest, and once Cordell is behind bars for trying to steal Marshall's insurance company, Marshall gets his company back and rehires Regan.