The film begins with what a BBC reviewer called “perhaps one of cinema’s most innovative opening sequences.” The scene is a long, behind-the-back tracking sequence featuring Frank Bigelow (Edmond O’Brien) walking through the hallway of a police station to report his own murder. Oddly, the police almost seem to have been expecting him and already know who he is.
A flashback begins with Bigelow in his hometown of Banning, California where he is an accountant and notary public. He decides to take a one-week vacation in San Francisco, but this does not sit well with Paula (Britton), his confidential secretary and girlfriend, since he is not taking her along.
Bigelow accompanies a group from a sales convention on a night on the town. He ends up at a jazz club where, unnoticed by him, a stranger swaps his drink for another. (The nightclub scene includes one of the earliest depictions of the Beatsubculture). The next morning, Bigelow feels ill. He visits a doctor, where tests reveal he has swallowed a “luminous toxin” for which there is no antidote. A second opinion confirms the grim diagnosis, and the other doctor implies that the poisoning must have been deliberate.
Starring: Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Lynn Baggett, William Ching, Henry Hart, Beverly Garland.
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