Strange Bargain (1949)

68 mins | Drama | 5 November 1949

Director:

Will Price

Writer:

Lillie Hayward

Producer:

Sid Rogell

Cinematographer:

Harry Wild

Production Designers:

Albert D'Agostino, Carroll Clark

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Sam Wynne . In records of the NYSA, the picture is listed under the title Sam Wilson . According to HR , Frederic Ullman, Jr. was originally slated to produce the picture. LAEx reported in Apr 1948 that J. H. Wallis' story had been purchased as a vehicle for Pat O'Brien, while a Jun 1948 LAT item announced that screenwriter Lillie Hayward was adapting the story for Robert Young. On 3 May 1987, the CBS television network broadcast a sequel to the film as an episode of its Murder She Wrote series. Jeffrey Lynn, Henry Morgan and Martha Scott recreated their original roles, thirty-eight years later. In the episode, "Sam Wilson" has just been released from prison, and "Jessica Fletcher," the series' recurring character played by star Angela Lansbury, tries to prove his ... More Less

The working title of this film was Sam Wynne . In records of the NYSA, the picture is listed under the title Sam Wilson . According to HR , Frederic Ullman, Jr. was originally slated to produce the picture. LAEx reported in Apr 1948 that J. H. Wallis' story had been purchased as a vehicle for Pat O'Brien, while a Jun 1948 LAT item announced that screenwriter Lillie Hayward was adapting the story for Robert Young. On 3 May 1987, the CBS television network broadcast a sequel to the film as an episode of its Murder She Wrote series. Jeffrey Lynn, Henry Morgan and Martha Scott recreated their original roles, thirty-eight years later. In the episode, "Sam Wilson" has just been released from prison, and "Jessica Fletcher," the series' recurring character played by star Angela Lansbury, tries to prove his innocence. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Oct 1949.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Sep 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
7 Apr 1948.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Jun 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Oct 49
p. 34.
New York Times
30 Sep 49
p. 28.
Variety
21 Sep 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Sam Wilson
Sam Wynne
Release Date:
5 November 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 September 1949
Production Date:
15 November--7 December 1948
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
8 September 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2526
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68
Length(in feet):
6,142
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13537
SYNOPSIS

Urged by his wife Georgia, Sam Wilson, a financially strapped assistant bookkeeper at a Beverly Hills securities firm, asks his boss, Malcolm Jarvis, for a modest raise. Instead of granting Sam's request, Jarvis reveals that his company is going bankrupt and Sam, a twelve-year veteran, is losing his job. After work that day, Jarvis invites Sam for a drink and tells him that, because of his failed financial situation, he wants to commit suicide. Jarvis also wants his wife Edna and son Sydney to collect on his $250,000 life insurance policy, but knows they will have to forfeit the money if his death is ruled a suicide. To assure his family's security, Jarvis offers Sam $10,000 to help make his suicide look like a murder. Although Sam refuses to consider his boss's idea, Jarvis calls him that evening and tells him that he is going through with his plan. Sam begs Jarvis to reconsider, then rushes to his Beverly Hills home. In the Jarvis library, Sam finds his employer's dead body, a gun lying near his hand and an envelope addressed to Sam. Following Jarvis' earlier instructions, Sam makes the room appear as though a robbery had taken place, then using Jarvis' gun, fires two rounds through the library window. After Sam throws the gun off the Santa Monica pier, he returns home and nervously hides the cash-filled envelope in his bedroom closet. The next morning, Georgia reads about Jarvis' death in the newspaper and suggests to Sam that they visit Edna to offer their condolences. At the Jarvis house, homicide detective Richard L. Webb interrogates Timothy Herne, Jarvis' partner, who freely ... +


Urged by his wife Georgia, Sam Wilson, a financially strapped assistant bookkeeper at a Beverly Hills securities firm, asks his boss, Malcolm Jarvis, for a modest raise. Instead of granting Sam's request, Jarvis reveals that his company is going bankrupt and Sam, a twelve-year veteran, is losing his job. After work that day, Jarvis invites Sam for a drink and tells him that, because of his failed financial situation, he wants to commit suicide. Jarvis also wants his wife Edna and son Sydney to collect on his $250,000 life insurance policy, but knows they will have to forfeit the money if his death is ruled a suicide. To assure his family's security, Jarvis offers Sam $10,000 to help make his suicide look like a murder. Although Sam refuses to consider his boss's idea, Jarvis calls him that evening and tells him that he is going through with his plan. Sam begs Jarvis to reconsider, then rushes to his Beverly Hills home. In the Jarvis library, Sam finds his employer's dead body, a gun lying near his hand and an envelope addressed to Sam. Following Jarvis' earlier instructions, Sam makes the room appear as though a robbery had taken place, then using Jarvis' gun, fires two rounds through the library window. After Sam throws the gun off the Santa Monica pier, he returns home and nervously hides the cash-filled envelope in his bedroom closet. The next morning, Georgia reads about Jarvis' death in the newspaper and suggests to Sam that they visit Edna to offer their condolences. At the Jarvis house, homicide detective Richard L. Webb interrogates Timothy Herne, Jarvis' partner, who freely admits that he and Jarvis did not get along. Later, Mrs. Jarvis, who says she was at her beach house at the time of the murder, asks Sam to oversee the firm temporarily. Webb then questions Sam and, sensing his nervousness, orders a tail put on him. That night, Sydney tells Sam and Georgia that he had seen Herne quarreling with his father just before his death, but had said nothing about it to Webb because he was sure Herne was innocent. To Georgia's surprise, Sam advises Sydney to keep the matter to himself. Herne, who plans to revamp the firm with his own money, then offers Sam a promotion to head bookkeeper. At the police station, Webb learns that two different guns were used in the crime and that Jarvis had recently increased the amount of his insurance. Suspecting that he is involved in the matter, Webb orders Sam to accompany him to see Mrs. Jarvis, who states that she was unaware of the increase in coverage. Webb then forces Herne to admit that he saw Jarvis just before his death, and makes Sam admit that he witnessed a fight between Jarvis and Herne earlier that day. Sure that Herne is about to be arrested, Sam is overcome with guilt, and as he and Georgia, who earlier had found the $10,000, drive to the Jarvis house, he confesses all. While Georgia waits for him in the car, Sam gives Mrs. Jarvis the $10,000, telling her about his involvement in the murder. To his astonishment, Mrs. Jarvis reveals that she shot her husband after he seemed to be reneging on his agreement to kill himself. Using the same gun she used on her husband, Mrs. Jarvis then shoots Sam, intending to make his death look like another suicide. After her first shot only grazes Sam, Mrs. Jarvis prepares to fire again when Webb appears and knocks the gun from her hand. Having heard her admission of guilt, Webb arrests Mrs. Jarvis and tells a relieved Sam that he is free to go. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.