Both the screenplay and the successful stage play on which it was based were written by English playwright Frederick Knott. Originally intended to be shown in dual-strip polarized 3-D, the film played in most theatres in ordinary 2-D due to the loss of interest in the 3-D process the projection of which was difficult and error-prone by the time of its release. When Tony retires from tennis, he secretly discovers the affair. He decides to murder his unfaithful wife, both for revenge and to ensure that her money will continue to fund his comfortable lifestyle. Tony is aware that Swann has become a small-time criminal with several aliases and has been secretly following Swann so he can blackmail him into murdering Margot. Tony tells Swann about Margot's affair. Six months ago, Tony had stolen her handbag, which contained a love letter from Mark and anonymously blackmailed her. Swann's credibility, in denying Tony's accusation, would be hurt by his criminal record. After Swann agrees, Tony explains his plan: the following evening, he will go with Mark to a party, leaving Margot at home while hiding her latchkey under the carpet of the staircase facing the front door of their flat. Swann is to sneak in when Margot is fast asleep and hide behind the curtains in front of the French doors to the garden. At eleven o'clock, Tony will telephone the flat from the party. Swann must strangle Margot when she answers the phone, open the French doors, leave signs that would trick the police into believing that a burglary had gone wrong, and then exit through the front door before hiding the key under the stair carpet again. The following night, Swann enters the flat while Margot is in bed and waits. At the party, Tony discovers that his watch has stopped, so he phones the flat three minutes later than intended. When Margot comes to the phone, Swann tries to strangle her with his scarf, but she manages to grab a pair of scissors and stab him fatally in the back. She picks up the telephone receiver and pleads for help. Tony tells her not to touch anything until he arrives home. When he returns to the flat, he calls the police and sends Margot to bed. Before the police arrive, Tony moves what he thinks is Margot's latchkey from Swann's pocket into her handbag, plants Mark's letter on Swann, and destroys Swann's scarf, replacing it with Margot's own stocking in an attempt to incriminate her. The following day, Tony persuades Margot to hide the fact that he told her not to call the police immediately. Chief Inspector Hubbard John Williams arrives and questions the Wendices, and Margot makes several conflicting statements. When Hubbard says Swann must have entered through the front door, Tony falsely claims to have seen Swann when Margot's handbag was stolen and suggests that Swann made a copy of her key. Hubbard does not believe this because no key was found on Swann's body upon inspection. Hubbard arrests Margot after concluding that she killed Swann for blackmailing her. Margot is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Some months later, on the day before Margot's scheduled execution, Mark visits Tony, saying he has devised a story for Tony to tell the police to save Margot from execution. To Tony's consternation, Mark's "story" is very close to what did actually happen: that Tony bribed Swann to murder Margot. Tony says the story is too unrealistic. Hubbard arrives unexpectedly, and Mark hides in the bedroom. Tony claims to have lost the case, but Mark, overhearing the conversation, finds it on the bed, full of banknotes. Deducing that the money was Tony's intended payoff to Swann, Mark stops Hubbard from leaving and explains his theory. Tony tells another lie, "confessing" that the cash was Margot's blackmail payment to Swann, which he had concealed to cover up her guilt. Hubbard appears to accept Tony's explanation over Mark's theory, and Mark leaves angrily. Hubbard discreetly swaps his own raincoat with Tony's. As soon as Tony leaves, Hubbard uses Tony's key to re-enter the flat, followed by Mark. Hubbard had already discovered that the key in Margot's handbag was Swann's own latchkey and deduced that Swann had put the Wendices' key back in its hiding-place after unlocking the door. Now, correctly suspecting Tony of having conspired with Swann, Hubbard had developed an elaborate ruse to confirm this. Plainclothes police officers bring Margot from prison to the flat.
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