Adapted from June Truesdell's novel, a psychology professor kills a student in self-defense and tries to hide it from a skilled police detective.
At night Wilma Tuttle (Loretta Young) is picked up on a highway by a truck driver. He lets her out, and she takes a bus home. She remembers teaching that morning.
She gives her students an essay test. Bill Perry (Douglas Dick) asks her a question, and she tells him to come at 5:30. Then she tells him to see the dean, but he gives her a ride and invites her to dinner at a drive-in. Wilma warns Bill he is self-indulgent. He takes her to a cliff by the ocean. In his swimsuit he tries to kiss her. She shouts, "Stop it!" and hits him in the head with an object.
Wilma wakes up at home. She thinks of calling the police but burns a bloody garment. Warren Ford (Robert Cummings) comes about a student and invites her to breakfast. He is Bill's guardian and asks her about Susan Duval, who is in trouble. Wilma agrees to talk with Susan, but she collapses at home.
Dr. Vinson tells Wilma she was delirious and talked of artificial respiration. The nurse says Bill drowned. At the inquest Warren questions Lt. Ted Dorgan (Wendell Corey), and the coroner jury finds it was an accident.
After the funeral Warren tells Wilma that Dorgan thinks Bill was murdered. Wilma says Bill was narcissistic, but Warren says he loved women. In the dean's office Wilma defends Susan Duval (Suzanne Dalbert) from Lt. Dorgan, who asks for Bill's exam paper. Warren asks Wilma to dinner.
Wilma reads Bill's paper that describes her personality, and she writes a note to Bill. Warren calls Wilma to bring Bill's exam paper to Dorgan, who calls in the truck driver; but he does not identify Wilma. Dorgan explains that Bill was already dead because the killer put water in his lungs. Dr. Romley (Sam Jaffe) says he was killed at the top of the cliff. Wilma accuses them of faking evidence.
Dorgan and Dr. Romley talk about Wilma. She tells Warren she does not want to fall in love with him. He takes her to a boxing match. She thinks of Bill and says she didn't mean to. They leave early and see Dorgan. In her apartment Warren kisses her. Warren sees Dorgan leaving and goes back to ask her to marry him. He says they are leaving.
In the morning Dorgan has Warren brought in and asks Wilma to be a juror. They have her demonstrate how Bill was killed. Warren and Dorgan ask about her alibi. Dorgan asks why she wrote another note to Bill and says she killed him.
In court Warren argues that Wilma acted in self-defense.
This suspenseful detective drama explores the psychology
of fear by showing how an intelligent woman may be victimized
and act irrationally under its influence.