Grand Exit (1935) - full transcript

A dashing insurance company investigator tries to catch an arsonist before he...or she...can strike again.

All right, you, come on.

Step on that ramp.
Get out of the way.

Hey, hey you.

Come on,
get out of here.

That means you too.

'Way back, 'way back.

I wonder how it started.

Lower your head.

My head?

Good color, splendid blending,
nice lines.

What do you think
you're looking at,

the Statue of Liberty
at sunset?

I never answer questions.
Saves time.

Suppose I had to answer
your question

about how this started.

I'd have to say there are
202 ways of starting a fire

with a match alone.

And 17 different ways
of lighting a match.

Ordinary people... do that,

careless people... do that.

Indians rub two sticks together,
just for something to do

until some tourist comes along
with a lighter they can borrow.

Oh, pardon me,
will you have a cigarette?

No, thanks.

Leaving so soon?
Yes, it's time.

I learned very early in life
not to engage in a conversation

with handsome strangers.

Now King Gambrinus had
the right idea.

He was an old 15th century

never missed a blaze,

but he sensed a crying need
after the fires.

And one night seated
in his palace deep in thought,

he summoned his magicians,
and they brewed a magic potion,

sealed it in heavy casks

and chilled it
in deep, dark cellars.

And when this magic potion
had reached its potency,

what do you think they had?


And there's a little place
around the corner

where this magic potion
may be purchased at a price.

Have a beer?
No, thanks.

Oh, it's too bad.

Nice cold beer
is very nice after a hot fire.

How about some food?
Thanks, no.

A little stroll
through the park, maybe?

No, thank you.

Well, there's hardly anything
else I can offer you

without getting personal.

You seem to think
I was born yesterday.

Let me see,
what was yesterday?

Sure you won't have a beer?
Some other time.

Some other place
and some other drink, I hope.

And some other girl.

The Excelsior Paper Box
Company's claim

has been settled
for $130,000.

the situation is appalling,

six big fires
in as many weeks,

representing a total loss
to this company of $1,872,961.

And 94 cents.

Mr. Grayson, you've
had charge of these cases.

I'm under the impression

that an investigator is
supposed to produce results.

What, if anything,
have you got to suggest?

Gentlemen, we have some
new and important evidence.

I've incorporated it
in my report.

Your report tells us no more
than the daily papers.

Not as much.
We don't want reports.

We want results.

I think I can promise you

One of our
advertising booklets

was mailed back to us

It is obviously the work
of a pyromaniac.

Arson. Arson.

Every time you investigators
get up a tree,

you cry "Firebug."

Better get Tom Fletcher back,

You can see for yourself.

"Commercial Camera Company.

Deutsch Paint Works.

Bristow Shipyards.

Eureka Linoleum Company.

Storage Warehouse."

Excelsior Paper Box Factory.

They're all here.


That word "when"
sounds ominous.

Terrible. Six fires already,
and more threatened.

The biggest campaign
of crime

ever aimed
at a fire insurance company.

Well, that's
some kind of a record.

Better get Tom Fletcher back,

He's the best insurance
investigator in the country.

Digby's right.

Fletcher's record in arson
cases is unbeatable.

And so are some
of his other records.

The last case he worked on
cost us over $20,000.

And saved you
a hundred thousand.

- Grayson, go get Fletcher.
- Sure, get him back.

Yes, let's have a talk
with him, anyway.

Go ahead.

Teacher spank.

You know my rule: sobriety test
before every drink. Marie.

She sells seashells
by the shea sore.

Too bad. Nancy.

Well, here I come,
ready or not.

Peter Potter picked
a pick of peckled pippers.

Oh, I've only had one.

- How sad.
- How utterly pathetic.

Hello, Tommy.

Hello, John.

meet John Grayson.

How are you? How do you do?

How've you been?
A moot question,

but this happens to be
one of my moments.

Will you join us?
Oh, no, thanks,

I'm here on business.

You picked a bad time, John.
I'm in conference.

And now Sally,
slowly and carefully.

I dread the thought
of drinking alone.

Six sleek
and supple salmon

slapped on a platter
for supper.

Success! Ha-ha-ha!

Your vacation
is about over.

You're going back to work.
Really, where?

John, you slander me.

The Board of Directors
are a little perturbed

about this epidemic
of fires.

Oh, yes,
I read the papers.

It would seem that
someone was indulging

in a little home cooking.

Something like that.
What shall I tell them?

You may tell
that august body,

the Board of Directors
of Interoceanic,

that Thomas Ignatius Fletcher
presents his compliments

and tells them
to go jump in the lake.

I think you can write
your own ticket.

They're pretty anxious
to have you back.

John, that touches me deeply,
but not deeply enough.

They gave me a raw deal.

Now's your chance
to even the score.

I think they're ready to eat
the well-known humble pie.

Peter Piper picked
a peck of peppered pickles.

- Peter Piper pecked a pick of...
- Quiet!

John, in some strange way,
that idea appeals to me.

I shall honor them
with my presence,

and feed them heaping portions
of humble pie,

while I munch casually
on caviar...

At their expense, of course.

my tabs, please.

Not leaving,
are you Tommy?

Oh, Tom.
Sorry, girls, but duty calls.

Oh, that's awful.

John, we are now
a company business.

So list these as miscellaneous
on the expense account.

And don't stint,

for Jasper is a friend indeed.

Hurry back, Tommy.

I'm sorry, gentlemen,
when you're sick,

you don't care whether
you like the doctor or not,

you just call him in.

And Fletcher's the man
that can cure us.

- Aw, he's hopeless.
- Certainly, he is.

He's an unreasonable,
unspeakable, irresponsible,

disrespectful clown.

Mr. Fletcher always spoke well
of you, gentlemen.

Glad to see me,
laughing boy?

Ah, my old friend Digby.

I suppose you're responsible
for bringing me back

to this Chamber of Horrors?

Not me.
I didn't want you back.

here's what we're up against.

Please, I know
what you're up against.

I know what you want,

and I know just how much
it's going to cost you.

I don't like the sound of that.

Gentlemen, the meeting
will please come to order.

Looking around me,
I see the same old faces.

I'm not very encouraged
by that,

for it seems that any change
would be an improvement.

However, if by any chance
I do accept

the generous offer
you gentlemen are about to make,

I want several changes made
in the terms

and conditions
of my employment.

I will name them in the order
of their importance,

First, I want an electric
refrigerator put in my office,

and it must be well-filled
at all times.

Mr. Grayson will tell you
my favorite brand.

Then there's that little matter
of a secretary.

You know the type,
not too young, not too old,

one who will be decorative
to the office.

Of course she won't have
much work to do.

And for transportation,

I'll need
a car and a chauffeur.

Any kind of a car'll do,
as long as it's a Rolls Royce.

A follies girl
couldn't ask for more.

I'm sorry, gentlemen.

I thought you sent for
an arson investigator.

I didn't know you wanted
a follies girl.

However, I would recommend
that statuesque blonde

third from the left
in the second act finale.

Hold on.
Let's get on to cases.

Come on, Fletcher.
Stick a pin in yourself

and let all the hot air
out at once.

Any other demands?

just a few minor details.

Of course, my old salary
must be doubled,

and then there's that
little matter of the bonus.

What bonus?

The bonus,
for catching your pyromaniac.

My idea is a modest little sum,
say $100,000.


Do you think we're crazy?

Do we have to go into that?

What do you say
we call the whole thing off

and go for a swim?

Last one in is a...
You know what.

Stop the clowning
and go to work.

All right,

It's a deal.

Send the contract over
to me later.

I'll be in conference
at the Biltmore bar.

A plain case of blackmail.

I wouldn't want to be quoted,

but I bet he started
those fires

just to get his job back.

Good morning, John.
Oh, hello, Tom.

Your icebox arrived,
and it's well-stocked.

It's a little small.

Remind me to tell French
to get a larger one.

Spring-cleaning, John?

Knowing the way
Interoceanic operates,

I'd rather bow out
than be kicked out.

Nonsense. I realize
the fact that

in talking me into this job,
you talked yourself out.

Such honesty of purpose
should not go unrewarded.

Give me Mr. French,
general manager.

Hello. French? Fletcher.

Will you have a desk
rolled in here for me?

What's the matter?
Can't you use Grayson's desk?

We're giving him his notice.

Sure, there's room
for both of us.

I said,
we were letting Grayson go.

Agreed. A very valuable man,
knows all about the case.

Now listen, Tom.

He's flopped on this thing
and flopped badly.

He'd be gratified
to hear you say that.

I tell you,
I'm tying a can to him.

Oh, yes, yes, we've planned
to stick very close together.

In fact, whither he goest,
I goest.

Thanks, French.
Don't forget the desk.

Say, if you think
you can run this whole...



Mr. Fletcher disconnected.

Shall I call him back?
No, never mind.

Just order another desk
moved into Grayson's office.

French had no idea
of letting you go.

Said I needed you around
for balance.

Heh. Well,
if they feel that way,

I'd like nothing better
than to be with you

and see how you do it.
Swell, John.

I plan to keep an eye
on your work too.

Mr. Fletcher?

Mr. French said I was to do
your secretarial work.

Good ole French.

He also said the job
was only temporary.

That all depends.

Won't you sit down?

Now to get back
to this case,

just where are we
and where are we going?

This advertising booklet
ought to be a big help.

It has been a big help.

But not to us.

Young lady, take a letter.

To the Board of Directors...
Copy to every member, please.

"Gentlemen, allow me
to compliment you

on your advertising booklet.
It's a masterpiece.

It's a great help
to pyromaniacs, arsonists,

and firebugs of all kinds.

My suggestion is
in the future,

any pamphlets going out to
the general public

be accompanied by
a small can of gasoline

and a box of matches.

Respectfully yours,
Tom Fletcher."

Will that be all,
Mr. Fletcher?

I'm optimistic enough to hope
that it will not be all.

Did you notice that
all these fires happened

on weekends or holidays?

Yes. As though the firebug
wanted to make sure

not to endanger life.

And that would indicate that
it was not a general arsonist,

but one who has a particular
grudge against Interoceanic.

Correct, John.

You'll also notice that
the fires occurred

in the exact order the buildings
are listed in this booklet.

I discovered that
after the second fire.

Nice going, John.
What did you do about it?

Put guards
at all the buildings.

Yes, but that
didn't stop the fires.

No, it didn't.

You might just as well
have hung a sign out.

I can't understand it.
They're all good men.

John, I want you to call off all
the men working on this case.

All of them?

I'll have my men
take over the situation.

All right.
I'd do it in person.

In person?
In person.

All right...
Oh, oh, in person.

Oh, yes...

Stop by the office
and get your check.

I'll let you know
if I need you again.

All right, Mr. Grayson.

Where do you think
you're going? To a fire?

You guessed it, officer...

Say, cut across that car.

Why don't you look
where you're going?

I never answer questions.
It saves time.

Will you please tell me
why your chauffeur cut me off?

Curious, that's all.

It's a fire investigator's
business to be curious,

particularly about people
running away from a fire

when everyone else
is running to it.

I'm not running away
from the fire, Gambrinus.

Oh, hello.
I didn't know it was you.

I was just going around to
9th Street to get a better look.

They wouldn't let me
through the lines,

but you make that all
very simple.

Do I?

The police won't stop me
if I'm with you, will they?

We'll soon find out.
Hop in.

Well, what do you want?

The lady's with us.
All right.

John, you play host.

I'll see you
in a little while.

My name's John Grayson.
I'm Fletcher's assistant.

My name's Martin,
Adrienne Martin.

How do you do?
How do you do.

Maybe we can see better
over here.

Thank you.

Ugh. Fighting a back draft.
Doesn't look so good.

Well, Tony,
what did you find out?

Plenty, boss.

I stay around the building
all day.

Everybody she come home,

you know, get-a-half-
a-holiday, make-a big fiesta.

Never mind that.
Anybody come out later?

Two peoples. One little fellow,
he's much scared.

And them a big fellow
comes out, a fancy guy.

He looks up, he looks down,
then he goes away.

Do you think you could
find them in the crowd?

One is catched already.

Over there?

she point him out.

Josephine is my G-man.

Come on, Josephine,
show Mr. Fletcher.

Go away, man.

Take it away.

Some fire, huh?

Interested in fires?

I ought to be interested
in this one.

That's my factory burning up.

Oh, then you must be
Mr. Crane.

If it interests you,
I am.

And if it interests you,

I'm the investigator of
the Interoceanic.

I'd like to ask you
a few questions.

Tell me something
about this Mr. Fletcher.

Well, he's the best
fire investigator in the world.

That's an odd sort of fame,
isn't it?

Yes, in a way.

I've heard
a lot of people say

that if he weren't
an arsonist at heart,

he wouldn't be
such a fine investigator.

You mean, "Send a thief
to catch a thief"?

Something like that.

He must be very clever.
Tell me some more about him.

Well, thanks very much,
Mr. Crane.

I'll call on you later.

Young lady,

when the honorable Tommy
passes into the great beyond,

half the girls in town

will be out shopping for
mourning outfits.

John showing you

all the fine points
of firefighting?

I've been learning everything
a young girl should know,

particularly about

Oh, very nice. Building me up
so I'll have further to fall.

Well, she wanted
your biography.

Oh, but the best chapters
are yet to be written.

Oh, I know something
about your history.

Your friendship with that
noble monarch, King Gambrinus,

and that little place
around the corner

where his magic potion
may be purchased at a price.

Shall we have a beer?

Some other time.

Some other place.

Some other drink.
And some other girl?

Some other girl won't do.

You know,
I'm disappointed in you,

not only as a prince charming,
but as a fireman.

No good detective wastes
his time in wining and dining

when he should be working.

She should be on
our Board of Directors.

But really,
I've been working very hard

on a most interesting case.

And what might that be?


But why are you so curious?

The National Correspondence
School of Detectives

always taught me to be
curious of stray beauties.

Well, the young lady's 24,

she's lived in France
for the past five years,

and she's an orphan
with no mother to guide her.

Doesn't that suggest

And now that that's settled,
why don't you get busy

and tell us
who started those fires.

Well, it's too soon.

You can't figure things out
ahead of time.

Well if I were working,
I'd have some suspects.

Ah, but I have
my suspects already.

You have?


Everyone in here,
plus the Board of Directors,

plus the minor employees of
Interoceanic, plus John Grayson.

Me? Heh.
But I haven't any motive.

Give you one
and you're in a perfect spot,

working on the case,

knowing what's being done,
one jump ahead of yourself.

Plus Tom Fletcher too, then.

My motive?

To return to a very important
and lucrative position

with Interoceanic,

and that fat bonus.

John, your powers
of deduction are marvelous.

Let's make it unanimous.

How about
little Orphan Annie here?

You're always at fires,

even caught you
running away from one.

If I were smart, I'd have you
in the calaboose right now.

And my motive?

Thomas Ignatius Fletcher

detects a woman's motive
for anything,

he'll walk right up to
the statue of Sherlock Holmes

and say "move over."

I'll drink to that, Tom.

And after that,

I think I should say
"good night."

You wanted to dig into
this investigation, Tom,

so I'll see
Miss Martin home.

It's miles out of your way,
old man.

Not at all, I don't mind
a bit, it's a pleasure.

Why, it's an honor.

There seems to be
some dispute here.


Get our things,
Noah, please.

There's only one way
to settle it, call it.

Oh, let me.



Sorry, John.
Make yourself at home.

You'll find a good book
in the ice-box.

A penny for your thoughts.

They're not for sale.
Two pennies.

I was just thinking.

That's the first serious thing
you've said to me

since we've met.

Well, that evens the score.

Now shall we start
all over again?

And just be ourselves?

All right.

You know, you must hate me.
On the contrary.

Why should I?

For taking up
so much of your time

when you should be working.

Well, frankly,
there's nothing for me to do.

I mean, about the fire.

Oh, you can't find out
anything about a fire

while it's blazing.

It's like a love affair.

You mean, you really
never understand it

while it's flaming?

It just happens.

Then later on...
When it dies down?

You find the reason for it
in the ashes.

There it is, down there
under that pipe.

Don't touch it
with your hands.

Pick it up
with your axe.

Hello, bad news.

Hello, chief.
Let me have that box too.

The boys told me
you were around.

I thought Interoceanic
had sent you out to pasture.

They did, but I pined for you
so much they brought me back.

To do what?

Stick a handful of ashes
under a microscope

and stop
all these fires?

You haven't been doing so well

If I didn't know it, I could
trust you to remind me of it.

You're down to the office
early today, aren't you?


I thought I'd find you
poking around in the ashes.

What brings you down
to the ash heap?

I came for two reasons.
One, to get my car.

Oh. And the other?

I have a complex.
I want to be a fireman.

Don't tell me your mother
was frightened by a fire horse?

Take off your hat.

This is
a very solemn occasion.

Put your left hand
on the fire plug,

raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear
to learn to play pinochle,

dress in 10 seconds,
slide down the pole,

hang onto the hook and ladder,
break into windows,

flood the cellar with water
when the fire's in the attic,

sound the siren, ring the bell,
and chop up pianos

with axes
at all false alarms?

I do.
Then you're a fireman.

In that case,
I'll go right to work.

What've you got there?

I get one at every fire.

Mr. Fletcher speaking.

Under no condition
ring this phone

until you got
further instructions from me.

Good morning, Mr. Fletcher.

Good morning.
And who might you be?

I'm your new secretary.

What happened
to the old secretary?

Oh, she got transferred
to another apartment.

Another what?

I said "apartment,"
but I meant "department."

Sometimes it's all
the same thing though, isn't it?

I suppose you know
what your duties are?

Oh, mostly.

I'm supposed to...
Take the wire off wine bottles.

And don't tell me it's lovely
work if you can get it.


Then start opening one
right now.

I don't see how you stand it.

I could never take a thing
this early in the morning

except orange juice.

I don't like oranges.

I don't like strawberries.

Do they give you a rash?

Mr. Fletcher, after all,
you ain't my doctor.

By the way,
did Mr. French tell you

that this job
was only temporary.

Yes, he told me that.

Good old French...

Gentlemen, the Acme fire
was started by a man

who might easily have been
miles away from the scene.

By remote control, I suppose.

All he did was to make
a telephone call.

How about that, chief?
Is such a thing possible?

I've been a fireman
for 32 years,

and I've yet to see anyone
start a fire

by sticking a nickel
in a slot and saying "Hello."

Of all
the fantastic stories.

If you gentlemen will pardon me,
while I make a phone call,

I'll try and convince you
of my statement.

A present.

What am I to do with this?

Mr. Fletcher speaking.

Connect me with
the Board of Directors room.


What is it?
What happened?

Get some water. Hurry.

Well what are you waiting for,
chief, somebody to ring a bell?

Stand aside, men.
I've got it.

Nice going, chief.

And that, gentlemen, is how
the Acme Fire was started.

Sit down, sit down.
Fan yourselves, boys.

Mulligan's got everything
under control.

Your fires were started by

a firebug who posed
as a telephone repair man.

In every single case,

he has shown up
the day before the fire,

gotten into the building,

tinkered with
the telephone equipment,

and hooked up
a chemical charge

that exploded
when he called the number back

on Saturday or Sunday

when there was no one there
to answer.

Why didn't it explode
when other calls came?

Oh, he blocked that
by telling the operator

that the phone
was temporarily out of order

and he hooked it up
on a direct line.

And now what happens,
Master Mind?

All the other companies that
we insure have been notified

to watch for a man
who comes in to fix the phones,

and the next time he shows up,

we'll grab him with the goods.

Before the fires start.

Is that clear, gentlemen?
I think so.

Now all we have to do
is to keep our mouths shut.

A tough assignment.

A very clever trick.

Yep, I handle my fires
very well.

Oh, I'd love to have seen it.
It sounds better than a show.

It was a show.
The phone rang,

and from then on,
it was like a farce.

You should have seen
those directors hop.

Were they surprised?

I mean, when you proved to them
that it was a phone call

that started the fire?
Were they?

Their mouths
opened so wide,

they could've
swallowed baseballs,

and Mulligan
was the funniest.

Tom Fletcher is clever,
isn't he?

To figure that out
from a tiny clue.

Well, I did
the detail work on it.

My congratulations
to you too, then.

Well, wait
till we get our man.

Did they get a description
of the man?

No. He was seen
changing the phone,

but nobody paid much
attention to him.

I'm betting on Tom Fletcher
though, and you too, of course.

Say, how about forgetting
Tom Fletcher for a while

and having dinner with me?

We'll run up into the country.

I'm awfully sorry, John,
but I can't.

Another date?

And one
I can't very well break.

Would you if you could?

I think I would.

Personal column, please.

Yes, ma'am.

It's 56 cents a line
for one day only

and a special four-day rate
at 48 cents.

Four days.

Thank you.

Good morning, Noah.
Good morning, sir.

We're having a guest
for breakfast. A young lady.

She ought to be ringing
the doorbell any moment.

Yes, sir, she...

But she mustn't see our
picture gallery.


You've taken down the
photograph of Miss Wilson,

Miss Dale, Miss Moore,
and Miss Broderick?

Yes, sir. All gone. I put away.
Young lady, she...

She's most unusual, Noah,
but she has faults.

Her nose turns up
too sharply,

her eyes are
the wrong shade of blue,

sometimes in a serious moment,
she seems cloudy in the belfry.

But I don't know,
there's something about her.

But with all
those faults,

you still invite her over
to Sunday breakfast.

Well, well, you got here
early, didn't you?

Your powers of deduction
are marvelous.

I feel very flattered
to be leading the field.

Noah, why didn't you tell me
that Miss Martin was here?

Ho, try to very hard, sir.
You talk too fast.

That's what I said.

You shouldn't creep up
on people like that.

It's a habit you must
break yourself of.

I'll try very hard.

Mm. Strawberries
and champagne.

And very good too.

It's an old family custom,

started by my



I hate to admit it, sir,
but you're a master dunker.

I shall carry the memory of this
luscious treat with me forever.

Dunking is a noble custom,
my good lady.

It quickens the eye, steadies
the hand, pleases the palate,

and greatly improves
the flavor of the strawberry.

But suppose this insidious
fruit were to mark me?

Ah, strawberry mark
on your pretty shoulder

and you'd be the missing
Princess of Jorganstein,

with a Balkan Kingdom

Sorry, I don't care for
some, I've seen the Balkans.

Oh, you've been around,
haven't you?

I'm Adrienne of the Adriatic.

Leave me with my secret.

By the way,
just what is your secret?

Are you always this
disagreeable at breakfast?

Oh, no. Some mornings,
I don't eat breakfast at all.

I want to ask you
just one question.

you don't have to answer.

That's what I said.

Someplace in you dark
and shrouded past,

there ain't been no wedding
bells, has there, little gal?

No, chief, nary a tinkle.

That's all I wanted to hear,

because there ain't been none
in mine either.

And it's high time...

There go your
wedding bells now.

That's why I call it
the irritator.

Pralines coming up.
Sorry, Noah.

Where is it?

Walnut and West,
Madison Knit Goods Company.

Right on schedule too.

Quite a fire, isn't it?
It ought to be a corker.

That's my reputation
going up in smoke.

Oh, here, take this badge
and go where you like.

I've got a little work
to do.

Now, now, Molly,
don't feel so badly about it.

Tell me what happened.

Oh, Mr. Fletcher,
I'm that distressed with it.

I'll take me sacred oath
that no person,

telephone man or anyone else,

went in that building
since it's closed.

Was there anyone at all
around here last night?

It being Saturday, there was
a straggler or two, no more.

Then a few came
and went to the garage.

Then there was an old duck
in a long overcoat.

A man?

On me oath,
I couldn't say.

The coat
came to the ankles.

It struck me funny wearing an
overcoat at this time of year.


That don't look
much like a skylight now.

Lend me your glove.

Come on, boys,
put some water on that stuff.

Let's get a look at things.

Hey, that's my glove!

You got another one.

but I got two hands.

You'll need 'em if you
ever take up the saxophone.

One of the finest glasses
for its purpose.

Concentrated light
in electrotherapy,

thinnest magnifying glass
ever made.

Who manufactures it?
Nobody now.

The Maxwell Glass company
used to make it,

but their factory
has gone out of business.

Who owned the factory?

An inventor named Maxwell,
Fred Maxwell and his wife.

She was
a very fine chemist.

Are they still here?
That I couldn't tell you.

Much obliged.
Send your bill to my office.

I'll do that,
all right.

Good morning.
Good morning.

I'm Miss Appleby.

Your story interests me.

I'm your new secretary.

Oh, what happened
to the old one?

Mr. French is planning
to give you a new secretary

every three
or four days.

Good old French.

Miss Appleby, can you
open a bottle of wine?

I've never tried.

I disapprove of the use
of stimulants in any manner,

shape or...
Shape or form, I know.

Miss Appleby, take
a letter, please. Ahem.

"Mr. French, General Manager.

Esteemed sir, in the future,

please don't reach so far down
into the bottom of the barrel."

Will that be all?

I'm optimistic enough to hope
that it will be all.

And that, gentlemen, is how
the Madison fire started.

Here, Chief, put this out,
will you?

They removed a pane of glass
from the skylight

and substituted a piece of
optical glass.

They placed it
at such an angle

so that the sun's rays
would hit it about 11:30,

and you see what happened.
The goods,

which have been chemically
treated, were ignited.

Did it take you a whole week
to find that out?

No, but it took me six days
and nights in the laboratory

to find out what this was.

A non-evaporating chemical,
which bursts into flames.

Did you discover the formula?
I did.

But it goes to the archives

of the Department of Justice
in Washington tonight.

It seems that you boys
talk too much.

Explain that remark,


We're the only ones who knew
about the telephone hook-up.

That bit of knowledge
leaked out

and warned the firebug
to change his methods.

the next step then?

I don't know.

First time
I ever heard you say that.

I'm sort of
on a blind trail.

The company
that made this glass

went out of business
seven or eight years ago.

The Maxwell
Glass & Instrument Company,

owned by Fred Maxwell.

I remember that company.

You ought to, you broke it.

We refused Maxwell a loan
on your advice.

Oh, yes.
I remember now.

We got a bad report on him,
and he swore to get revenge.

And it wound up
in a big suit

one of our other companies.

I think I recall that case.

Don't strain yourselves,

You remember enough.

Come on, Johnny.

We've got a little
knitting to do.

The rest of you are dismissed,
school's out.

Better dig into the files
on that Maxwell case.

Get what you can on it and bring
it to my apartment tonight.

All right,
I'll get right on it.

See you around 7.

Say, Tom, there's something
you ought to know.

Yeah? All right,
fire away.

Somebody else knew about
that telephone setup.

I, uh, accidentally
talked about it myself.

To whom?


How did you happen to do that?

Well, to be perfectly
frank with you, Tommy,

I've grown pretty fond of her.

We were having
a drink together,

and I told it more as a joke
than anything else.

It was foolish of me,
I suppose,

but she won't let it go
any further, we know that.

John, when you mouth's closed,
you can't put your foot in it.

Remember that.

Better get to work
on that Maxwell case.

Miss Martin,
latest edition, just out.

Thank you, Charles.

Go over the building

I'm going back to the barn.
Okay, chief.

Well, well, one false alarm
right after another.

This one ought to be easy
for you.

All you got to do this time

is find out who started
something that didn't happen.

Too bad they had
to wake you up, chief.

Oh, hello, boss.
Did you turn in that alarm?

No, I didn't know anything about
it until I heard the sirens.

Anybody wise to you?

No, they think
I'm the regular watchman.

Keep your eyes open.

This false alarm
may be something new.

I'll be careful, sir.

I'll help you
across the street.

What did you turn in
that alarm for?

I didn't turn it in.
It was a woman.

A woman?
Yeah, I got her license number.

Are you sure it was a woman?

Do you think I'm blind?

Yes, sir?
I'm from the insurance company.

Where's Miss Martin's car?

Right there,
behind the second column.


I represent an insurance
company, madam.

Have you given a thought
to the future?

To your old age?

Insurance is not
very pleasant,

but it's
a very vital subject.

You interest me, sir.

Won't you step in and show me
some of your samples?

I was in the neighborhood so I
thought I might buy you a drink.

Well, I'm just having some tea.
Will you drink that?

Well, if I must, I must.

Working hard?

No, there hasn't been
a thing doing.

Oh, I thought I heard fire
engines go by a while ago.

Go by? Where?
The hotel here.

What time
did you get back?

Oh, I haven't been out.

As a matter of fact,
I was taking a nap

and the engines woke me up.


Oh, it's probably
a little fire some place.

Would you like me
to call and see?

Oh, no, no.
If it's anything important,

they'll let me know.

Why did you ask me
if I'd been out?

I thought I saw your car parked
in front of the Biltmore.

Oh, my car hasn't been
out of the garage all day.

Do you think I'd
be running around like this?

You're a terrible detective.

I'm beginning
to think so myself.

Well, if we're
going out tonight,

I'd better run along and dress.

All right,
and I'll try very hard

to make myself beautiful.
Oh, that wouldn't be hard.

Thanks for the tea.
I hope it doesn't make you sick.

No, I've been on
a liquid diet for a long time.

Good evening, Noah.
Good evening.

Is Mr. Fletcher in?
Yes, sir.

Go right in, please.

Come on ahead, John.

What did you find out
about Maxwell?

Well, here's the story.

Eight years ago, he owned
the Maxwell Glass Company.

Things got looking bad,
he tried to float loans,

the bank turned him down.

He'd done a lot of business
with Interoceanic,

so he came to our
Board of Directors.

Imagine having to go to
a bunch of buzzards like that

for anything.

He held a million-dollar
insurance policy.

Couldn't he borrow on that?
He already had... About 100,000.

So when they turned him down
for another 100,000,

he laughed at them
and swore he'd get even.

Oh, it gets better.

That's what I thought till
I learned he committed suicide

to make them
pay the million.

Tough way to get even.

But the company
didn't pay off.

Any lawsuit?

Sure. They produced
the suicide note,

the clothes
that were found on the dock,

the man who saw him
jump overboard...

And no corpus delecti.

And the company
beat the widow and orphans

out of another million.

How like the boys.

Widow and orphan.
One daughter name Adeline,

and that's as far
as I was able to get today.

Adeline Maxwell.

I guess that's far enough,

Remember, all this took place
seven years ago.

I haven't had time
to check the last six years.

We'll get that tomorrow.

Oh, here are two tickets
to the Music Box.

A very charming young lady
of your acquaintance

is waiting to be taken there

She's expecting you.

Yeah, well, tell her I'm busy,
something sudden.

Are you drunk?
Not yet.

Well, thanks very much.

Say, I'll have to run
along and dress, won't I?

Yes. Drop in
after the theatre.

Something came up all of a
sudden he had to take care of,

and there's the story
in a nutshell.

Ha, ha! Very nice
if you like nutshells.

But what's he supposed to be
doing, looking for the firebug?

Oh, young lady, what Fletcher
is up to, nobody knows.

Music Box.

Say, what's the idea
of all that noise?

What's that?
Shut that thing off.

Yes, sir.

I've driven 600 miles today,
and I've got to have some sleep.

Can't you read that sign.

Oh, I'm very sorry, sir.

Stay out of this hallway,
or I'll complain to the manager.

Yes, sir.

Now you see
what you've done?

You've made me lock myself out.
Oh, that's all right.

I'll let you in, sir.

Be careful about that.
Yes, sir.


Mr. Fletcher,

All right, Mr. Fletcher.

All right, come on,
come on, come on, folks.

Somebody hurt?

Yes, it was a watchman.

Just a moment, doctor.

Hello, Sam.

Hello, boss.

What happened?

I punched the time clock at 8,

and it blew up in my face.

Better not talk any more.

Noah, bring me a drink.
Yes, sir.

Wait a minute.
Changed my mind.

Bring me several drinks.
Yes, sir.

Good evening, Noah.
Good evening, Noah.

Good evening.
Mr. Fletcher in?

- Yes, sir.
- Come in, come in.

Do you know about this?

Know all about it,
all about it.

Sit down
and keep very quiet.

What in the world
are you trying to do, Tom?

Play a song,
this is a new instrument.

I invented myself out
of an octave of old champagne.

Tom, this is no time
to be drunk.

You're telling me?

But what about
the fire?

Shh! I told you,

I know all about the fire,
all about it.

I know something
you don't know.

Come on, Tom.
No, no.

She wants to know
about fires.

Do you know
what happens

to little girls
who play with fire?

They get burned.

What happens to little girls
who tell lies?

What happens?
Terrible things.

Nobody likes 'em.
Oh, very bad, very bad.

I'd better take Adrienne home.
No. I'll stay.

My name's Tommy Fletcher.
What's yours?

What's your name?

Don't be silly.
We all know her name.

That's the funniest thing I ever
heard of, we all know her name.

I know her name.

Funny, when people
change their names,

they always keep
the same initials.

Adrienne Martin,
Adeline Maxwell.

That's your name,
Adeline Maxwell.

And I know your father's name.
Tom, what are you trying to do?

And I know
your mother's name too.

What's behind
all this, Tom?

Darling, I couldn't start
to tell you,

because if I did,
there isn't time enough

for me to go through.

Why do you go
to all the fires?

You won't tell me?
All right then, tell me this,

why won't you tell me?

I can't.
You don't trust me.

How did you happen to know where
the fires were going to be?

Oh, please.
Well, then wait a minute.

Why did you turn in
that alarm today,

two hours before
the fire started?

Tell me that.
I can't.

But I'm your friend.

Cross my heart
and hope to die, I am.

Maybe I can help you,
maybe I'm trying to help you.

Oh, I know all about
the whole business,

how your mother was cheated
and your father was...

Tom, can't you see that she...

It all fits together,
the little pieces.

You tell me,
and I tell you.

Don't you understand?
I can't tell you.

If you don't tell me now, you'll
never wanna tell me, never!

And you've gotta tell

about this sometime.

I think I'd better go.
No, you can't go.

Somebody waiting to see you.

Are you Adeline Maxwell?


I place you under arrest
on the charge of arson.

This is Mr. Cope,
the District Attorney.

We'll go to his office now
if you're ready.

I'm ready.


I'm going with you.
John, please keep out of this.

Do you realize what
you're doing, Fletcher?

Imitating a drunk.

You're as drunk as a fool.
No, I'm not.

I didn't want her to think

I could do a thing like that

Well, drunk or sober,
it's a terrible thing to do.

Listen to me, John,
I know who the pyromaniac is.

Are you trying to tell me
that Adrienne...

I'll never tell you
anything about Adrienne

that would hurt you, John,

because it would hurt me
just as much.

Now I want you
to go right out

and get on the trail
of Mrs. Maxwell,

Mrs. Frances Maxwell,
widow of Fred J. Maxwell.

Check up on every lead and
get a good description of her.

Adrienne's mother?
Yes. She's the pyromaniac.

Her motive's revenge.

The company
broke and robbed her

and sent her husband
to his death.

What happens to Adrienne?

What happens when any mother
sees her daughter's in danger?

I'm banking on that.

She'll come out of hiding
to protect Adrienne.

I'm going
back to the office.

Get what you can
and bring it by there.

Well, John,
what did you find out?


Did you get a description
of the mother?


When last seen,
she weighed 135 pounds,

45 years old, gray hair,
brown eyes, 5 feet tall.

Here's a picture.

That'll make it easy.

I'll have a thousand copies
made tomorrow morning.

Yeah, that'll be great.

We'll crack this case
by tomorrow night.

What else
did you find out?

Mrs. Maxwell
died eight months ago.

She's dead.

She died before the first fire
was ever started.

She was buried in France
where they lived.

Are you sure?

Aren't you?

What do you mean?

What are you
imitating now, Fletcher,

a man
who's surprised?

You framed that girl.

You're wrong about that,

Did anybody ever tell you

what a low, unprincipled
cad you are?

Lots of times, but go ahead if
it'll make you feel any better.

You'd crucify your best friend
to solve a case.

Go on, get it out
of your system.

All right, Fletcher,
here it is,

I've worked for you and rooted
for you up till tonight,

but from now on, I'm against you
every foot of the way.

Hello, Travis Detective Agency?

This is Fletcher.

I want you to send a man out
to shadow John Grayson.

Yeah, lives at the Cornell
Arms, that's the one.

Oh, nothing much.

Just got a hunch that he does
better imitations than I do.

Cope, I want
that Maxwell girl sprung.

What's the point?

The point is
I've missed on the case.

That's why she won't talk.

She knows nothing about it.

I made a wrong guess.
Go on, tell me some more.

Now look.

I'll take the rap with the
newspaper boys or anybody else.

I built the case against
the girl deliberately,

out of nothing, planted
the evidence, framed her.

The whole thing's a mistake.
But it isn't my mistake.

Everybody knows
you're stuck on this girl.

But be reasonable, Tom.

Why, the case is spread
all over the front pages.

Public opinion demands a trial.

Now, if you can go out
and convince the voters

who put me in office
that the girl is innocent,

I'll spring her tomorrow.
Can I see her?

You know better than that.
She's an arson arrest.

Held incommunicado
in the psychopathic ward?

That's right.

I can't even see her

until the alienists
complete a report

on her mental condition.

Grayson's been around
trying to see her too.

I had to turn him down.

Even the newspaper boys
can't talk to her.

It's only fair
to warn you, Cope,

that some way or other,
I'm going to spring that girl.

There's only one way
that you can spring her,

and that's to go out and
find me the real pyromaniac.

Well, well, well, well.
Look who's here.

I was just going to send
the boys out to find you.

Well, chief, what's on your
so-called mind this morning?

We policemen may look dumb,

but you shouldn't try
to pull

the oldest gag
in the world on us.

Look at this,
all wrapped up in cellophane.

Yeah, he sent it
with love and kisses.

Tom, love is blind,
but the jailers ain't.

Now here's an apple.

All you have to do
is pull the stem

and inside is a little note.

It's got whiskers on it,

and tried by a man
who calls himself smart.

I'm surprised.
But listen to this:

"A, I got you into this
and I'll get you out.

Love, F."

Ha, ha!
Old man remorse.

He's been telling me
the same thing.

You guys are pretty smart,
aren't you?

Tom, on behalf of
the guards of the County Jail

and the Police Department,

I want to present you
with this

as a token of
our love and affection.

And you can either
eat it yourself

or return it
and get your money back.

And let this be
a lesson to you, Tom.

I have to hand it to you,

You're a good judge
of fruit.

All right, sir. Yes, sir.
I'll take care of that.

you're getting in my hair.

Good thing I'm not twins,
there wouldn't be room enough.

That's not funny.
Did I ask you?

What does this fellow
John Harmon look like?

Hmm, slender,
oldish fellow, about 60.

Psychopathic ward?

Yeah, and if they
ever catch up with you,

that's where you'll be.

That's what I said.

Over here's the Woman's
Observation Ward,

and here is
the Men's Observation Ward.

And this is a big yard
in between

with a wire fence
running through.


Say this joint is practically
the old homestead to me.

And I want to tell you
something else,

it's the oldest stir
in the country.

Why they could sell it
to an antique dealer,

it's got so many wormholes.
If a fire broke out,

where it would it
be likely to start?

Well, the paint shop
would be the best place.

You see, when you're outside,
having your exercise,

you can get into
the paint shop there.

And above the paint shop,

is a laundry where
they clean the uniforms.

Yeah, yeah, pure sense
to start a fire the paint shop.

That'd be the best place.

Gimme a cigar, bub.
Certainly. What kind?


Say, a man's following me.

Do you know where
I can find a policeman?

Why, no, I wouldn't know.

Well, I'll find one,

and when I do,
I'll have you arrested

for impersonating
an officer.

Can you tell me where
I can find a policeman?

A woman without an umbrella

across the street. There she
was, 5th Avenue, streetcar,

John pulled a gun
and shot the baby.

No ambulance around
when he arrived.

What do you mean?

You dumb flatfoot,
woman without an umbrella,

Johnson Troy shooting fast,
45th Street, kudo fast,

pulled out the gun,
hit the pillar, shot the baby,

no ambulance around
when the elephant got there.

Are you crazy?


What's going on here,

This guy's as crazy
as a bedbug.

Call the wagon.

Hello, John.
What brings you here?

I just want to
congratulate you.

You finally got
the right man in jail.

Sit down.
Tell me that again.

Maxwell case. Fletcher's
your man, all right.

Say, wait a minute, son.
You're going too fast for me.

You don't have to cover up
with me, Cope.

He's in the County Jail
being held for observation,

and that's where he belongs.

How did you find this out?

Had him tailed.
I suspected him all along.

That how you figure, John?

Certainly. And when
the case comes up for trial,

I'll be right there
to testify.



John Harmon.

All right, Al.

Get in line.

Tiberius Jones.

All right, Al.

Jones, I want you to go out
and sit in the sun for a while.

but don't forget,

I've got to fight Max Baer
tomorrow night.

I've got a bet on you.

Frank Oleson.

All right, Al.

I'm tired, old boy.

Oleson, you're being
allowed into the yard

for a little exercise,

but don't talk
to any of the men.

Me? Talk to them?

No, sir.
They're all crazy.

Take a walk.
Get away from the fence there.

Take a walk.

Looking for someone?

No, of course not.

Put it down, Maxwell.
You're through.

You think so, do you?
You think so.

Well, that's one on me.

I never suspected
Maxwell was behind all this.

It makes two of us. I have
a confession to make, Tom.

I suspected you.
I'm sorry.

Why be sorry?
I suspected you.

Yeah, I know. But I had
a detective on your trail.

Yeah, I found that out.

But you weren't really
suspicious, John.

I had your phone wire tapped,
a Dictaphone in your apartment,

and three Sherlocks tailing
you in eight-hour shifts.

And it was Maxwell
all the time.

Alone and unaided,
according to his confession.

Right, Cope?
Well, it's mighty lucky

he lived long enough
to tell the true story.

If he hadn't, the boys
would have arranged

to make this place
your permanent address.

We might yet unless you tell us
how you worked it out, Tom.

Well, it was easy.
After I tumbled to the fact

that there was no real proof
of Maxwell's suicide

seven years ago.

Well, but we found
a suicide note then,

and his clothes.

But you didn't
find the body.

Remember that, chief. If you
ever wanna commit suicide,

leave the body around
so we'll be sure.

But that didn't lead you
to look for him in jail.

Well, if I must,
I suppose I must.

Now step by step,
the girl was in jail.

She worked twice as hard
as we did to stop her father.

Even he had
a little humanness.

He didn't want
his daughter to suffer

for something
he had done himself.

All right,
what was his next move?

To get her out of jail.

How? By getting in.

And once in, he used
the weapon he knew so well,

arson, to create confusion
and cover their escape.

You didn't pick all that
out of the air

without a single clue,
did you?

No. I had a clue.

Just one. You handed it to me,
all wrapped up in cellophane.

You see, F
stands for "Fletcher,"

but it also stands
for "Father."



Yeah, that note in the apple.

You see, gentlemen,

I didn't send
that basket of fruit.

But you haven't told us
where you're going

on this
extended vacation.

And why Rome?

Oh, I don't know.

I've got a couple
of theories to work out?

You know,
I've got a hunch

that Nero played the fiddle
to cover up,

and it was really he
who set fire to Rome.

So I'm going to poke around
in the ashes.


Goodbye, Tom.

And the best of everything
to you always.

And to you, John,

Well what?

Just well.

And after that
brilliant farewell,

the exit's
to the left,

and if you don't mind,
I'll exit.

Down, please.

Where are you going?


I have a theory of my own.

Do you think
you'll find the answer...

in the ashes?

I think I will.