Based on a play by James Warwick, a police psychiatrist is held hostage by an escaped murderer and psychoanalyzes him.
Andrew Collins (Lee J. Cobb) is a police psychiatrist and wants to treat a young criminal, and he tells the story of Al Walker.
Collins is teaching college. Al Walker (William Holden) has escaped from prison and is in a car with Betty (Nina Foch) and two other men. They stop the car, and Walker kills the warden. Walker, Betty, and the two men with guns enter the Collins house while they have guests. Walker slaps a man and orders two women servants tied up in the cellar.
Professor Fred Linder tells the sheriff he is taking a hunting rifle to Collins' house. Collins tells Walker that he is interested in him, and he is reviewing a book on criminal insanity. Linder arrives, and Walker hides. When Linder loads the rifle, Walker takes it and shoots him.
The boy goes out the window, but he is caught and brought back. Collins asks Walker why he killed Linder and suggests that he is driven by his subconscious mind. At 1:30 a.m. Mrs. Linder calls the sheriff about her husband. Walker is waiting for Larry and has Betty come in so that he can sleep. Betty tells Collins that she couldn't leave Walker. Collins asks her about Walker's dream, and she says he dreams about rain he cannot escape.
Three sheriffs come in and ask about Linder and Walker. Collins says that Linder left, and they go away. Collins says that he can fix someone who has nightmares, and Walker asks for help. Betty checks on the servants. Walker says that his father beat him, and he hated his mother. Collins asks what he is ashamed of and suggests that Walker loved only his mother. Betty gets upset, and Walker pushes her away roughly. Betty tells Ruth Collins to make her husband shut up.
The servants get loose, and one escapes. Collins asks Walker word associations, and he figures out that the rain is blood. Walker remembers how he took cops to his father, and they shot him. He hid under a table and saw blood dripping. Walker says he took his father's place, and Collins says that each man he kills is his father.
More sheriffs arrive and surround the house. The businessman knocks out one of the men. Walker has Collins walk before him and hopes to shoot his way out. As he aims the rifle, he sees his father. His paralyzed hand moves, and he is arrested.
Collins says that Walker would not kill again, and he asks that criminals get psychiatric treatment.
This psychological drama simplifies complex theories
to make the point that criminal behavior may be the result of
mental illness that is caused by childhood experiences.