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Strange Triangle

Strange Triangle(1946)

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In the sheriff's office of San Joaquin County, Sam Crane relates to Harry Mathews, his friend of fifteen years, the tale of how he has been accused of a murder to which he intends to plead guilty: Upon returning from army service, Sam visits Harry, the vice-president of Pacific Coast National Bank, to tell him that he does not want to resume his old job as a bank investigator. Harry promotes Sam to district supervisor of all the bank's valley branches and tells him that, after a week's vacation, he should report to the Santa Rosa branch, where Harry's brother Earl is manager. Sam goes to a cocktail lounge, where a woman he has never met before joins him and invites him to accompany her to an opera. They see each other for three days, but she refuses to tell him anything about herself and suddenly checks out of her hotel, leaving no forwarding address. Later, Sam reports to the Santa Rosa branch and meets Earl and a principal depositor, Barney Shaefer. After Earl's assistant, Betty Wilson, shows Sam around the bank, Earl invites Sam to stay at his place. There Sam is introduced to Earl's wife Francine, who turns out to be Sam's mystery lady friend. After dinner, Barney and his wife Hilda come to visit, as Barney is promoting an investment opportunity. Later, Earl has to go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting, leaving Sam and Francine alone. Sam tells Francine that she is "no good" and that he had no idea she was married. Francine says that he has been her only "adventure," and that she left because she felt guilty. Sam wants nothing more to do with her due to his respect for Earl. Upon Earl's return, Sam overhears him admonishing Francine about her reckless shopping sprees. As Sam is about to leave Santa Rosa, Shaefer comes to the bank to say that his investment opportunity has fallen apart, and he has lost a lot of money. Sam goes on to the branch at Portertown, where he later finds Francine waiting in his hotel room. He resists her and tells her to leave. Betty then telegrams Sam that she is on her way to meet him on an urgent matter. On her arrival, she informs Sam of cash shortages she has discovered at the Santa Rosa branch. However, she has not informed Earl, whom she suspects, of her findings. Sam returns to confront Earl, who feels the shortage must be due to a bookkeeping error. Suddenly, however, he finds in his desk some papers for a loan to Barney which he has forgotten to file, and Sam accepts Earl's explanation. Later, when Earl asks Betty why she is avoiding him, she replies that she is concerned about his wife's expenditures. Meanwhile, to avoid further involvement with Francine, Sam asks Harry for a transfer to another area. Barney then tells Earl that he must immediately repay the loan he made to him. Earl has bought, with the bank's money, some of the worthless stock Barney was touting, and Barney's loan was to cover the missing cash. Earl tells Francine that he cannot replace the missing funds, as they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Betty informs Sam that the cash is still missing but elicits no interest from him as he is awaiting his transfer. She reveals to him that she is in love with Earl. Harry comes to Sam's hotel room to tell him his transfer has been approved but wants to know the reason for his request. Sam tells him he has accepted another job in Mexico. While they are talking, Francine shows up and Harry is disgusted by Sam's apparent involvement with Francine. Francine has raised $1,800 of the missing $3,000 and blackmails Sam for the rest. After Francine leaves, Sam telephones Betty to ask her to make sure that Francine makes full restitution. Francine tells Earl that she went to see Harry and told him that she was unable to raise the money. Stating that Harry will do nothing to help him, Francine tries to persuade Earl to take more money from the bank and leave town. After Sam has an FBI friend check on Francine, he rushes to Santa Rosa and tells Betty that Francine has a long police record. After checking the vault, Sam goes to Earl's house. Earl has taken $90,000, which Francine has switched to one of her own bags. Sam confronts Francine with her criminal past, and Earl attempts to return the money, not realizing at first that he no longer has it. When Earl demands the money from Francine, she threatens him with a gun but Earl shoots her. Back at the sheriff's station, it is revealed that, because of his years of friendship with Harry, Sam has been covering up for Earl and intends to plead guilty to killing Francine. However, Earl arrives, determined to stop Sam from taking the blame for his crimes. With Sam cleared of all suspicion, Harry offers him his job back, plus vacation time.