Based on a novel by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley), a woman marries a playboy gambler and fears he will murder her to get money.
On a train Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) joins Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) in first class and borrows to pay. He sees her at a horse-show and with ladies visits Lina to invite her to church. He takes her for a walk, and she resists his advances; but fearing to be a spinster, she kisses him. Lina tells her mother Martha McLaidlaw (May Whitty) she is not going to the ball; but she gets a telegram from Johnnie, who arrives saying her father General McLaidlaw (Cedric Hardwicke) invited him. Johnnie dances with Lina and takes her for a ride to kiss her. She learns he is a playboy, and he fears he loves her. At her home they talk to her father's portrait and agree to marry. They honeymoon in Europe.
They rent a house, and Johnnie asks Lina for 1,000 pounds to pay back a loan, but she asks him to work. They get chairs from her father. Johnnie says he is going to manage the Melbeck estate. Beaky (Nigel Bruce) meets Lina and says Johnnie gambles. Johnnie admits he sold the chairs for 200. Johnnie comes in with presents and says he won a 10-1 bet. He toasts Nina that he made his last bet. Beaky drinks brandy and nearly dies. Lina calls on George Melbeck (Leo G. Carroll) and learns he will not prosecute Johnnie if he pays back the 2,000 pounds. Lina writes Johnnie she is leaving him but rips it up. Lina's father dies, but she still gets just her 500 a year. In a car Lina tells Johnnie that Melbeck did not tell her why he left the job. Johnnie says he needs 30,000 to develop property and gets it from Beaky. Lina questions Beaky, and Johnnie complains about it. The next day he tells her he stopped the deal. Lina fears that Johnnie will murder Beaky and faints. She drives after them to the cliff but finds them at home. Beaky says Johnnie saved his life and invites them out.
Police detectives question Lina about Beaky's death in Paris, because he formed a corporation with Johnnie and died after a drinking bet with an Englishman. Johnnie tells her he loved Beaky and calls police he was in London. Lina calls on mystery writer Isobel Sedbusk (Auriol Lee) and discusses murder. Lina finds Johnnie's note to Melbeck in a relevant mystery novel. At a dinner Johnnie asks about a poison that leaves no trace. Servants are gone, and Lina asks to sleep alone. Lina wakes to see Isobel and Johnnie. Lina says she is going to visit her mother, and Johnnie drives her. She fears the cliff, but Johnnie says he saved her from falling out. Lina realizes that Johnnie was going to kill himself, and he says he is no good; but she pleads for him to come home with her, and he does.
This ending was devised so as not to disturb Cary Grant's
fans. Ironically the plot reflects what director Hitchcock does
to audiences, making them afraid of an imminent murder which as
a movie is not real.