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Murder in the Music Hall

Murder in the Music Hall(1946)


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During the ice show at the Music Hall one night, star Lila Laughton stumbles during her big number when she sees a familiar face in the balcony. Afterward, she receives a note that causes her to run out of the theater, avoiding the questions of her boyfriend, orchestra conductor Don Jordan. Proceeding to the address on the note, she finds her old producer and director, Carl Lang, who has just been released from jail after five years. Lila is distracted by a noise in the study, until Carl plays her a new song on his piano, telling her he has loved her for the past five years and now plans to build a show that will make her a worldwide star. When Lila refuses both his advances and his show, he threatens to claim that the death of Lila's former love Douglas from accidental poisoning, a felony for which Carl went to jail, was actually a murder committed by Lila out of jealousy. Frightened, Lila returns to the show and, after performing another number, tells fellow skaters Millicent, Diane and understudy Gracie, all of whom worked with Carl on the same show as Lila, about what has just occurred. Diane, the woman whom Douglas really loved, is suspicious, and just then Lila remembers she left her purse at Carl's and runs back to retrieve it. Don follows her and when they reach the room, they find Carl dead, with a knife in his back. Don picks up a glove from the floor, and after Lila grabs her bag, they leave. They ask the other women to meet them in a nearby café, and there Diane accuses Lila of the murder before storming out. The rest, seeing the words "Peerless Cleaners" inside the glove, go to the cleaners and discover it belongs to Rita Morgan, wife of columnist George Morgan. Meanwhile, Inspector Wilson questions the man who owns the apartment where Carl died, and he admits that Carl had a girl friend while in jail. Don then discovers that the Morgans are attending the show that night, so he and the women go to the theater for the evening show. Don slips into George's seat when the writer gets up, and shows Rita the glove. Rita agrees to meet Don and Lila, and later at her house, she and Lila recognize each other from Carl's show. Rita tells them that Carl also blackmailed her, threatening to make public the jealous love letters she sent to Douglas. After Rita says that the only person who can testify that she did not kill Carl is a blind man who heard them leave together, Don and Lila slip out the back to find the man, just as Wilson arrives to question Rita. Although they learn the man's name is Mr. Winters, Wilson finds Winters on the street at the same time that Don and Lila enter his apartment and discover another man who claims to be Winters. The fake Winters corroborates Rita's story, but when Don and Lila leave, they see Wilson on the street with the real Winters and race back upstairs. Don chases the impostor, but after losing him, speeds over to Rita's to accuse her of lying. Just then Wilson enters with Winters, who says he has never heard Rita's voice before, and that a stranger paid him to stay away from the music hall. When George comes in, Wilson identifies his voice as that of the man who paid him. Thus exposed, George reveals that after he heard Carl blackmail Rita over the phone, he sneaked into Carl's apartment, disguised as Winters, to steal the love letters. As he was wearing the blind man's dark glasses, he saw only Carl's dead body and a woman running out. At home, he then overheard Rita's conversation with Don and Lila, after which he ran to Winters' to pose as him in order to back her story. Wilson responds to George's story by calling his deputy and telling him to meet them at the music hall with a blank arrest warrant. There, Lila finds Don and Wilson in her dressing room, and suddenly hears a woman humming the same tune that Carl had played for her, supposedly for the first time ever. After Gracie is revealed to be the hummer, she is forced to admit that she was hiding in the study when Lila visited Carl, heard his profession of love to Lila, and killed him in a jealous rage. Later that night, George calls in the story of the year as Don and Lila kiss.