6 December 2005 | horn-5
Jack La Rue gets a frying-pan lesson.
The plot finds Judy Wingate (Louise Platt), worker in a paper-box factory, living very unhappily with her frowzy step-mother, Frances Wingate (Wynne Gibson), and Frances is very fond of entertaining members of the underworld at home. Frances is especially very fond of gangster Eddie Nolan (Jack La Rue), although Eddie has his eye on Judy.
Eddie and Frances go clubbing, Eddie gets Frances drunk and pawns her off on another man, and he hotfoots it back to the Wingate home to take a run at Judy. Judy fends him off, and Eddie is not one to be discouraged by any amount of fending, so Judy hits him in the head with a heavy iron frying pan. This discourages Eddie some as it serves to knock him out.
Fances has returned, unknown to Judy, and she has been observing the proceedings and is somewhat unhappy that Eddie has dumped her and is now chasing Judy around the house. Judy flees from the scene without seeing Frances and, after Judy has left, Frances thinks Eddie can use some more lessons in manners and she steps in the kitchen and hits him in the head again with the handy frying pan. This may have served to teach Eddie a good lesson but, since it kills him, he never gets a chance to show what he has learned.
Judy is charged with the murder and a young newspaper reporter, Dan Donahue (Donald Woods), champions her cause, but she is sentenced to five years' imprisonment. She goes to prison and is reasonably happy as she finds the environment more cheerful than living with her stepmother.
Meanwhile Frances is filled with remorse over Judy's conviction for a crime she committed, but not remorse-filled enough to confess. But she has a plan to get Judy out of prison. She contacts her gangster friend Gorno (Eduardo Ciannelli)who has a reputation for being able to spring people out of prison. His technique is to have an unclaimed corpse planted in the cell of the prisoner he is freeing, the corpse is blown up with dynamite and this makes the corpse---or the remaining pieces impossible to identify--- and the authorities assume that the prisoner has committed suicide. This is a very good racket indeed as Gorgo double-dips by collecting a fee from the party of the second part, Frances in this case, and also collects the insurance from the party of the second part on the supposed, party of the first part, deceased prisoner.
For those who would be critical of Gorno for collecting on both ends, it should be pointed out that his profit margins aren't all that high, what with having to secure the corpses, pay off the jailers and the cellmates---here's fifty to keep quite and say nothing while we blow up this corpse---and also shell out the cost of the first month's insurance, and salaries for henchmen and just all-around overhead associated with any enterprise. His start-up costs alone had to have been staggering, and all good businessmen need a certain amount of return-on-investment, especially in the field of public service, even if there are no other firms bidding for the job.
Judy escapes, and everyone, including good old Dan, believes she is dead, a dynamite suicide. Dan is not all that good of a reporter or else he would be nosing around and asking the proper authorities where Judy got the dynamite. But then Judy, who has been spirited away by Frances,learns the details of how she come to be spirited away, escapes from Frances, and phones Frances and says she is going to give herself up to the police. Frances tells her friend Mullins (George Chandler), who calls his friend Gorno, and Gorno tells Mullins to kill Frances to silence her. Mullins takes Frances for a drive out on a lonely country road, and she begins to suspect that Mullins is not as good a friend as she thought he was and she jumps out of the speeding car to keep Mullins from killing her, and this ultimately serves the same purpose a few days later anyway. Mullins bills Gorno for the job anyway, figuring just as the Sundance Kid did a few years later that the jump alone would kill her. As mentioned before, Gorno's overhead was staggering.
But Frances, after she quit bouncing, is picked up and taken to a hospital and Dan, Judy and Gorno learn that she is about to make a statement and confess all before she dies. (How should I know, maybe she sent out a press release.) Gorno is a little miffed when he hears this since he has already paid Mullins a full fee for an uncompleted job, so he heads for the hospital and takes a gun to complete the job before the three o'clock press conference Frances has scheduled.