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Seven Keys to Baldpate

Seven Keys to Baldpate(1947)


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When mystery writer Kenneth Magee disembarks at the Asquewan Junction train station during a driving blizzard, attractive Mary Jordan warns him not to go to Baldpate Inn, where he is planning to write his latest book. Ignoring Mary's advice, Magee, who has wagered Bentley, Baldpate's owner, $5,000 that he can write a mystery in twenty-four hours, makes his way to the darkened inn. There he is greeted by Cargan, a sinister-looking man who claims to be the caretaker. As Bentley had given him what he believed to be the inn's only key, Magee is surprised by Cargan's presence and is even more surprised when Mary lets herself in with a third key. A few minutes later, Magee stumbles upon Pete, a woman-hating hermit, snooping around in his room. Connie Lane then arrives at the inn with a fourth key and introduces herself as Cargan's niece. As soon as Magee is out of hearing range, however, Connie corners Cargan and demands her share of the "payoff." Magee then sees Mary slip through a secret wall panel in the second-floor hallway and listens as she telephones Bentley in New York to report that their plan to distract him is working well. After an amused Magee returns to work, Mary learns from Bentley that Cargan is not the caretaker. Suddenly concerned, Mary tries to telephone the police, but discovers that the line is dead. Mary accuses Cargan of cutting the lines, a scene that is witnessed by Magee, who assumes that they are both performing for his benefit. At that moment, a man calling himself Professor Bolton arrives with the fifth key and disappears into a guest room. Now frantic, Mary admits to Magee that she is Bentley's secretary, but he refuses to believe her warnings about Cargan. Later, Steve Bland, the owner of the sixth key, deposits a stash of stolen jewels in the inn's first-floor safe and demands fifty percent of the payoff money from Cargan. After the greedy Cargan shoots Bland and hides his body, Connie tries to break into the safe, but is interrupted by Bolton. Bolton then attempts to open the safe, but is stopped by Mary, who knows the combination. Before Mary can determine the safe's contents, however, Cargan intervenes. Mary then begs Magee to accompany her down the secret passageway, and at the bottom of the stairs, they stumble on Bland's corpse. A now terrified Magee begins constructing an escape rope made of sheets when Max Rogers and Hayden arrive with the seventh key. Cargan and Max, his cohort, demand that Hayden, the owner of the jewels, pay them $200,000 in exchange for the jewels, which they stole as part of Hayden's insurance scam. After Hayden hands over the money, Cargan and Max flee into the blizzard. Just as Magee is escaping down his rope, the crooks are waylaid by Bolton under Magee's window. During the ensuing chaos, Magee grabs Hayden's money, and Hayden is killed by Max and Cargan. As Magee and Mary are racing through the secret passageway with the money, Connie holds them up at gunpoint. Connie then hides the booty in a wood stove and tries to trick Max, her former lover, into helping her escape with it. When Max discovers that she is duping him, he kills her before she can reveal where she has hidden the money. Max and Cargan search frantically for the cash, while Pete, who, like Magee, knows its location, lights the stove and pretends to burn it. Enraged, Cargan knocks Magee and Pete out the window and then orders Mary to open the safe. At that moment, however, Bolton reveals himself to be an insurance investigator and stops Cargan at gunpoint. Unaware of Bolton's identity, Magee knocks him out. Max and Cargan are about to do away with Mary and Magee when Pete shows up with the police. The police doubt Pete's story, however, until Magee causes Connie's body to roll out of a closet. After the police arrest Cargan and Max, Magee embraces Mary and happily loses his bet.