It is the office Christmas Party, and being 1958, it is still called a Christmas Party (and even though this aired in mid-January). Presents are being exchanged, everyone is smoking like a chimney with care, and men are making general louts of themselves.
While everyone else is having fun, Shelly is trying to get through to her boyfriend Tony Gould (Joseph Cotton) on the phone. She gives up and goes into the boss’s office to use his phone. She finally gets him and asks if he has already told his wife about them, because a few days before Christmas really would be the ideal time. Gould assures Shelly that everything is all set for them to be together. He tells Shelly he will pick her up at the office.
Once at the office, Gould suggests welllllll, maybe he should stay with his wife a little while longer . . . maybe after her annual trip downtown. Actually, Gould’s arguments for waiting all involve his wife’s feelings. That seems to anger Shelly even more. Finally, fed up with Gould’s dithering, she picks up the phone with him standing there and calls his wife to break the news herself. Gould, quite reasonably, stabs her.
When he tries to unlock the office door, he breaks the key off in the lock. He checks an internal office window, but there are bars on it — that must be a rough crowd. He tries another window, but it is three stories up.
This is what I appreciate about AHP — I know locked-room mysteries are a distinct genre, but I’m not sure how many of them involve the murderer actually being locked in. Someday I am going to order that big-ass book of locked-room mysteries (if I ever finish that big-ass book of pulp stories).
Gould calls his buddy Charles. He tells Charles that Shelly has passed out and he is locked in the office. Despite being drunk, Charles says he will be right over.
Gould finally gets the attention of a woman in the window across the alley and asks her to call a locksmith. It is clear that Sir Alfred did not direct this one as surely he would have put a hottie across the alley like Miss Torso in Rear Window. Gould is acting so creepy, though, she actually calls the police. Seeing the police questioning her across the alley,
Gould puts on Shelly’s boss’s coat and glasses, hoping to escape in disguise when the cops inevitably arrive.
The police kick the door in and the ruse works as he leads them out of the office. They are about to leave when Gould’s drunk friend Charlie finally shows up. Just as Gould was about to get away with murder, Charlie staggers past the group, presumably looking for a place to throw up. He goes into the bathroom and finds Shelly’s dead body.