The Girl in Black Stockings / Wanton Murder

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Drama/Crime/Mystery, USA, 1957, 73 min.

AKAs Black Stockings / Wanton Murder

Tagline She's every inch a teasing, taunting Come-on Blonde.

Synopsis David Hewson, a Los Angeles lawyer vacationing in Kanab, Utah, is romancing Beth Dixon, an employee of the lodge where he is staying, when they discover the body of Marsha Morgan, whose throat has been cut. Jess Holmes, the local sheriff, questions several people about the murder, including lodge owner Edmund Parry, who is confined to a wheelchair, and his sister Julia. Edmund, a bitter, sardonic man, admits that he hated Morgan, a playgirl, and states that her murder is an example of a totally justifiable homicide, but adds that he had nothing to do with her death. Holmes then questions David, who was to have had a date with Morgan the night she was killed, and although Beth provides David an alibi, Holmes realizes that David could have seen Morgan earlier. While a new guest, Joseph Felton checks in, Holmes questions aging, alcoholic actor Norman Grant and his would-be-actress girl friend, Harriet Ames, about Morgan. Grant is hoping for a comeback and is at the lodge to sober up. When Joe, a drunken Indian finds the murder weapon, a knife taken from the lodge's kitchen, suspicion falls upon him. As Beth is operating the lodge's switchboard, she overhears Felton making a call to a man named Prentiss. That night, while out walking, Felton is shot in the back and dies, falling into the lodge's swimming pool. Later, Holmes verifies the alibi Joe has given and tells David he has learned that Felton was a private detective. He also explains that Edmund was paralyzed by the shock of a girl friend double-crossing him and running off with another man. After Beth admits to David that she was married when she was very young and inexperienced, and has drifted from place to place until settling at the lodge as Edmund's personal assistant, David tells her that he does not care about her past and continues their romance. When the sheriff drives out to a lumber mill to question another suspect who works there, Frankie Pierce, about his relationship with Morgan, Pierce panics and is killed as he backs into a woodcutting machine. At a dinner party that evening, Harriett gets drunk and kisses Edmund, much to Julia's annoyance. Later that night, Grant is knocked out by a blow to the head and recovers to find Harriet dead, her throat slashed. Upon learning of Harriet's death, Holmes wonders if Grant's wound might have been self-inflicted. When David drives to the Parrys' residence to inform them about the latest murder, he finds Edmund alone in the house and tells him that he believes that Julia's possessive love for him has turned her into a killer. Edmund admits that Julia wrecked his one major love affair, but that he has forgiven her and will always provide her with an alibi. David then drives away, but on the road back spots Julia's car parked at a remote tourist site and discovers Beth, with a knife in her hand, kneeling beside Julia, who although stabbed, is still alive. Beth tells David that she saw Julia leaving Grant's cottage and followed her to her room. Julia then threatened her with a knife and forced her to drive her to the site. Beth relates that she stabbed Julia while struggling with her for possession of the knife. When two patrol cars arrive with Holmes, accompanied by Prentiss, Beth suddenly pleads with David not to let them take her and he realizes that she is responsible for all the killings. David then cooperates with the police in Beth's arrest. The next day, Holmes explains to David that Beth, a psychopath, had escaped from a mental institution in Pittsburgh and that Felton had been hired by Prentiss, Beth's husband, to find her and bring her back. Beth had changed her appearance and name and consequently, Felton had not recognized her, but she had overheard his phone conversation with her husband and realized that she was in danger of being caught. As Beth is driven away in a patrol car, David heads back to Los Angeles.

Directed by Howard W. Koch  

Starring Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, Mamie Van Doren, Ron Randell, Marie Windsor, more...

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