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Guilty Hands

(1931 b 69')

En: 6 Ed: 5

A lawyer commits murder to protect his daughter from marrying a bad man, and he arranges to get away with it.

Lawyer and former district attorney Richard Grant (Lionel Barrymore) says that murder can be justifiable. Barbara Grant (Madge Evans) greets her father at the train. Gordon Rich (Alan Mowbray) asks Richard to change his will. Grant reviews Rich's past women, including one suicide. Rich says he is going to marry Barbara, and Grant says he'll stop it by murdering him. Tommy Osgood (William Bakewell) tells Barbara that Rich is too old for her. At a dinner Rich announces his wedding to Barbara the next day. Grant says he will do anything to assure his daughter's happiness. Marjorie West (Kay Francis) complains to Rich that he is marrying; but Rich says he always comes back to her. Rich orders two black men to watch Grant all night. Rich goes to Barbara's room and kisses her; but she pushes him out and cries. Rich writes a note to the police that Grant has threatened to kill him. Grant shoots Rich and takes the envelope. The two men see Grant's shadow walking back and forth, and they find him in his room. Marjorie screams, and Rich is found dead.

Grant has all meet in the living room. Tommy says he heard a scream. Marjorie denies she screamed and says Rich was murdered. Grant says it was a suicide, and they argue. Jimmy says that Rich told him to watch Grant and says Marjorie screamed. Jimmy says that Grant did not leave his bungalow. Rev. Hastings (C. Aubrey Smith) says that Grant is most qualified to find the murderer. Grant questions Barbara first, and she asks if he killed Rich. Grant says that Rich was responsible and shows her photos of his women. Barbara says she wasn't going to marry Rich, and Grant laughs. Grant questions Hastings, who says that Marjorie screamed. Grant questions Marjorie, who admits she loved Rich.

The boatman reports the murder to the police. Barbara goes to Tommy's bedroom. He says he is suspected, because he loves her; they kiss. Marjorie sneaks into Grant's room and discovers how he made the shadow to fool the two men. Grant comes in, and Marjorie goes out. Powder on Rich's blotter helps Marjorie read what he wrote. Grant tells Marjorie that he killed Rich, and she will inherit his money. She says Grant will be executed; but he says she will be convicted of the murder and explains why. As police arrive, Grant sends Marjorie out and removes the blotter. Grant tells police it was suicide. Rich's rigor mortis fires the gun that shoots Grant, who commends Barbara to Tommy before he dies.

The surprise ending provides poetic justice for the proud lawyer who thinks the murder he committed was justified. Ironically his daughter came to her senses without such an extreme measure.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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