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Straight on Till Morning (1972) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A timid, withdrawn woman meets a man she believes is finally the love of her life, unaware that he is a vicious serial killer.

  • Shy Brenda Thompson writes naive children's stories to amuse herself. Stifled and desperate for a man of her own, she leaves Liverpool, telling her mom she's pregnant, and gets a job in a boutique in London. She moves in with the promiscuous but good-hearted Caroline but the mod set shuns her for her plain looks. Then she kidnaps a strange young man's dog, so as to perhaps get to know him while returning it. The young man turns out to be Peter, a psychopath with a predilection for killing beautiful things. He renames Brenda Wendy, and they start a hopeful, if strange, relationship. It might have a chance, if it weren't for Peter's murderous secrets.

    Leo

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The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Brenda (Rita Tushingham) is a plain young woman in Liverpool who writes fairy tales as a hobby. Wanting romance of her own, she tells her mother (Clare Kelly) she's having baby and is going to London to find a father, against her mother's wishes.

    In London Brenda bumps into a handsome young man named Peter (Shane Briant) who is going into newsagent. He buys a comic and cigarettes then drives off in a sports car. Interspersed with this are flashbacks of Peter with a drunken girlfriend at his house. He turns off the lights and goes upstairs. She follows then screams as the door closes.

    An attractive young woman Caroline (Katya Wyeth) arrives for work at clothes boutique run by her boyfriend and lover Jimmy (Tom Bell). Brenda is looking for accommodation and work in London and is interviewed by Jimmy for a job at the boutique. He says she can start next day.

    At his home, Peter is disturbed by a painting of his girlfriend so takes it outside and burns it.

    Brenda is introduced to Joey (James Bolam) in the backroom of the shop where she works. She wants to meet people and fit in and tries to talk to several people around London without much success.

    Back in Liverpool Brenda's mother is missing her.

    Caroline says Brenda can move in with her. When she arrives at Caroline's, a party is in progress. Joey is also at party. Jimmy and Caroline argue about Brenda moving in with Caroline and eventually Jimmy leaves. Brenda goes out to get cigarettes for Caroline. While she's out, Caroline seduces Joey and they are in bed together when she returns. Upset, Brenda goes out again. Wandering along she finds a stray dog. The dog's owner Peter comes along calling for the dog. Seeing him, Brenda picks up the dog and runs away, back to Caroline's. Brenda runs a bath and washes and grooms the dog to make it beautiful.

    On the dog's lead is Peter's address so the next day Brenda takes the dog back to its owner. He invites her in. He says his house is messy because he doesn't live with a woman who could look after it for him. She gives him a false name, the name of the princess from her fairy story. He asks her why she stole his dog, saying he saw her running away with it. She becomes upset but when he persists asking why she did it, she says she did it to meet him. She eventually confesses that she just wants a baby and goes to leave. He says she can move in with him and look after him if she would like to, but he doesn't like her name so will call her Wendy.

    After she's left, Peter takes the dog and whilst talking to it gently, he stabs it to death with a box-cutter type knife.

    Brenda moves into Peter's house telling Caroline she is going home to Liverpool because her mother is ill. In her room, he shows her he has bought a crib for her. She asks where the dog is but Peter says it has gone out and not come back. Brenda cleans up Peter's house. Peter reveals he doesn't work or do anything and they talk about their mothers. Brenda reveals she lied to her mother about being pregnant to leave and her mother doesn't know where she is. She tells him she writes children's stories. He goes to his room and remembers being called Clive.

    Next day, Peter tells Brenda a fairy-story about a Prince Clive growing up and then leaving his family. He says Clive met an Indian princess. In a flashback, a drunken woman clings to Peter saying how much she loves him. Peter continues the story saying the princess did not love Clive so he left her. He met many more princesses but none loved him so he began to loathe his beauty and got rid of them all.

    A delivery arrives. Peter opens a drawer full of money to pay for it. Next day she asks where the money came from but he doesn't tell her.

    Caroline answers the phone at her house. It's Brenda's mother. Both thought Brenda was staying with the other.

    Brenda and Peter record fairy tales together on a tape recorder. Meanwhile Brenda's mother arrives at Caroline's house looking for her. They chat but Brenda's mother soon has to return to Liverpool. Caroline searches Brenda old room and finds the dog lead with the address on it.

    Brenda leaves Peter a note and goes out shopping. Caroline goes to Peter's but he denies that Brenda is staying until she shows him the dog lead. They wait in Peter's house while Brenda is still out having a beauty treatment. After more waiting Peter goes upstairs and Caroline follows. They get into bed together but then Peter kills Caroline by stabbing her with the box-cutter knife.

    Brenda returns with her new clothes and new hair but Peter is out. She goes upstairs and into Peter's room. Peter returns home while Brenda looks at jewellery in Peter's room. He sees her key so knows she is back. She finds the knife as he climbs the stairs. When he gets to the room and sees her he doesn't like her new look. He removes her wig and smudges her make-up away. She cries but he reassures her he doesn't want her beautiful, he wants her as she was. They get into bed together.

    Jimmy searches for Caroline at her house. Brenda's mother reports her missing to the police. The police interview Jimmy about the last time he saw Brenda.

    At Peter's house he shows the now pregnant Brenda all the items he has bought for the baby. When he goes out to buy cigarettes he sees Brenda's missing person picture in the paper. He returns home and stops Brenda from going out.

    The police continue their enquiries at places Brenda has been to and in the streets of London. Peter stops Brenda from going out again but won't tell her why. Later he relaxes saying she can go out but first tells her he wants to show her something in his room. He puts on the tape in his room and leaves the room. On the tape are recordings of Peter killing the dog and Caroline with the knife because he does not like them being beautiful. Brenda screams. When the tape has finished playing, Peter says he loves her and asks her not to leave but she runs downstairs in fright. However the doors are locked and she can't get out and she falls to the floor crying. Peter follows her saying he couldn't hurt her.

    Alone in his room Peter listens to Brenda's voice on the tape about the prince and princess marrying and living happily ever after.

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