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Crown v. Stevens (1936)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

While out dancing, Chris becomes jealous when his girlfriend Mamie pays too much attention to her friend Joe. Later, Chris proposes that they get married. He gives Mamie an engagement ring, but it is only on approval; he will need it back until he can pay for it. At work the next morning, Chris helps Molly get a quote for a redecorating job. Chris asks Mr Stevens for a raise, but is refused. Mamie phones to say that she and Joe have decided to go off together and that she won't give the ring back.

Chris goes to Baylock, a moneylender, and tells him that he won't be able to pay for the ring right away. Baylock gets angry and insists that the money be repaid within 24 hours. Chris tries to get an advance on his salary to cover the debt, but once again Stevens refuses. Chris returns to Baylock and finds that he has been murdered. Behind the curtain there is a woman holding a gun. She threatens Chris and then leaves. Chris sees that Baylock's account book is burning in the fire. When the police arrive they decide to interview all the registered gun owners in the area.

At the office Stevens realises that he has left his book of quantities at home and asks Chris to get it. Arriving at Stevens' home, Chris realises that Stevens' wife Doris is the woman who held a gun on him the night before. She convinces him that the gun was used in self-defence and that it went off by mistake. Fearing that Stevens would fire him over the scandal, Chris promises to keep quiet.

Doris is unexpectedly visited by Ella, an old friend from her days as a chorus girl in Music Hall. Ella now has a rich fiancé and is living a life full of fur coats, money and all-night parties. Doris tells her that Stevens is a miser who will only let her have his money when he dies. Later, Stevens tells Doris that the police came to see him to look at his gun and that Chris was somewhat agitated by it. He asks her about the gun she used to have from her days on the stage. That night she drops the gun over a bridge, but it lands on a boat. The police are thus able to recognise it as the weapon that belonged to a man who used to work on the stage some years before.

Molly comes to the office to thank Chris for helping her get a low quote on the decorating job. They make a date for later that evening. Chris goes to her shop, where they have to wait on a late shopper. Doris goes to one of Ella's parties and comes home late and drunk. Stevens makes it clear that he disapproves and forbids her to see Ella again.

Stevens catches the flu and Chris is put in charge. Doris pretends that her husband is seriously ill to find out how much the business is worth. She is clearly amazed when Chris informs her it is worth about £6,000. Doris buys sleeping pills from a chemist. When Stevens reads in the paper that her gun was used in the crime, she claims that it has been stolen and blames Maggie, their maid. Maggie bursts into tears and quits her job on the spot. Doris gives Stevens the sleeping pills in a glass of milk as he prepares to go out. When he says he is feeling unwell, she accompanies him to the garage and places him behind the wheel of the car before he falls asleep. She turns on the engine and locks him inside the garage.

Chris admits to Molly what happened and they go to see Stevens. Hearing the car in the garage, they decide to investigate. Doris tries to stop them. When they hear something moving inside the garage, they guess her plan. They are able to free Stevens just as Maggie brings the police, having told them about the gun. When Doris learns that her husband will recover, she coolly admits her crimes to the police.