Aldous Huxley adapted his own story about a wealthy man whose invalid wife is poisoned. He marries a girl and is tried for murder.
Henry Maurier (Charles Boyer) rips up a check that his ailing wife Emily Maurier (Rachel Kempson) wrote for her brother Robert Lester (Hugh French), and they quarrel. Henry invites Janet Spence (Jessica Tandy) to lunch. Henry gets in his car and kisses Doris (Ann Blyth). Janet advises Emily to leave Henry, but Emily says she stays alive to keep Henry from being happy.
Henry lets Nurse Braddock (Mildred Natwick) go early and gives Emily her medicine. Henry meets Doris for dinner and promises Robert money. Dr. James Libbard (Cedric Hardwicke) tells Henry that Emily died of a heart attack, and it may have been what she ate. Henry blames the nurse. Janet saw her die and cries on Henry's shoulder. Dr. Libbard says the rich may lack purpose without work.
Henry goes away with Doris. He stops by home, and Janet comes in. She likes thunder, but he does not. She declares her love for Henry, who admits he just married someone who is eighteen. Janet says she was joking. Doris comes in and has the diamond brooch that Emily promised Braddock. The nurse tells Janet that she suspects Henry killed Emily, and she will get an autopsy.
Doris does not like being pregnant. The coroner testifies that Emily died of arsenic. Doris asks Henry why he did it, and he gets angry at her for believing he did.
Dr. Libbard tells Henry that Doris took an overdose of sleeping pills, and he suspects that Emily committed suicide. Dr. Libbard treats Doris and persuades her not to do it again. Henry and Doris are reconciled.
In court Henry admits he bought weed killer the day before. Dr. Libbard checks Janet's eyes; she has insomnia. Doris visits Henry in jail. Nurse Braddock testifies that Emily and Henry quarreled. Janet says that Emily said nothing about poison. The prosecutor notes that Henry also gained from insurance. Henry is convicted, and his appeal is denied.
Dr. Libbard tells Janet his doubts, and she gets upset. He suggests she see a psychiatrist, but she refuses and visits Henry on death row. She says her father died in prison. She is jealous and leaves. Henry says she confessed. Dr. Libbard tells Janet that the execution could be postponed, and he warns her that guilt can lead to madness. He moves the clock ahead an hour. When he says that Emily would have died within three months, Janet laughs.
Doris visits Henry, who is confident because he has accepted the injustice. Dr. Libbard tells Janet that she will be safe in two minutes. She cries, and he gives her a shot. She admits she put the poison in Emily's coffee. He tells her she can sleep now, and he calls the governor.
Huxley's philosophy is reflected in the wisdom of the
doctor who can perceive the human qualities and motives of each
character. An undercurrent is the hatred that men and women may
feel toward each other when they are frustrated in love.