Past Tense (TV Movie 1994) - Plot Summary Poster

(1994 TV Movie)


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  • A former cop, who is now an author, notices an attractive young woman move in next door to him. He strikes up a conversation, one thing leads to another and he spends the night. She asks him to come back the next evening, but when he does, he discovers that she has been killed. When he reports the murder, he is told that no such woman ever lived there, and when he gets back to the house there's a completely different woman staying there--whom he's never seen before--who claims that she's lived there for years and no other woman has ever lived there.

  • The police detective and aspiring writer Gene Ralston is the senior of his partner and friend Larry Talbert, who is a gambler and married to Emily. When the sexy Tory Bass moves to the next door, Gene befriends her and she tells she had witnessed a murder and is afraid to die. Gene tells that he is a cop and will protect her, and they have an affair. Later Gene visits Tory and finds her stabbed to death on her bed. Gene investigate the case and soon he learns that his neighbor is Dawn Tripplet, who has been living in the house for thirteen months. Further there is no report of the death of any Tori Bass. Gene visits the psychiatrist Dr. Bert James and he leaves his office more confused. Soon Gene finds that he is not able to distinguish what is delusion or reality.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Gene Ralston (Scott Glenn) wakes from what seems to be a nightmare of him struggling with another man in the dark at some sand quarry as he falls into the sand and is covered with sand as he suffocates. As he turns on his computer and begins writing his novel the next morning Gene turns over the memories in his mind as he notices a new neighbor has moved in to the house across the street. Introducing herself to him Tory Bass (Lara Flynn Boyle) exhibits a skittish manner and admits she is preoccupied by some feeling that someone has been murdered. Gene tells Tory that he is a cop, and she admits that she was involved with a man who is also a cop. Gene has dinner with his partner Larry Talbert (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife Emily (Sheree J. Wilson) and they talk about Genes developing career as a writer, but Gene has his mind on Tory and occasionally glances over at her house across the street. The next day Gene goes to visit Tory and there is an immediate attraction as she opens up to him and they make love on her living room floor. Later in the day a delivery man brings Gene some roses with a note that say come over after dark, but when Gene goes to Torys house he discovers that shes been murdered. Larry, Genes partner heads up the murder investigation and orders Gene off of the case considering his involvement with Tory, but Gene investigates and discovers that the dead girls body isnt marked by a distinctive cut on her hand that Gene knows was there. Later we see Gene at work as a police detective in the squad room with Larry as he tells him about the strange murder but Larry says there was no murder, in fact it is as if Tory never existed. Gene goes to the house where he met Tory but a new woman answers the door. Gene consults help from a psychiatrist Dr. Bert James (David Ogden Stiers) who performs perfunctory tests on Gene but admits doesnt understand what Gene is experiencing. As Gene continues writing his novel he wonders whats going on and investigates further to discover that Tory went by a different name Sabrina James, and that Larry knows about the womans previous identity. Following Larry to a hospital Gene discovers that he has been dreaming as he awakens from a coma he has been in for 13 months, and has no memory of what has happened. As he puts the pieces together more memories come back in larger chunks and he is contacted by Tory who has been waiting for him to come out of his coma. They realize that there is someone conspiring against them and will have to confront the man in a final showdown before they can live together happily.

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