Death of an Angel (1952) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • An older doctor in a rural area takes on a younger physician as his partner. When the older doctor's wife is found murdered, the man becomes the chief suspect, especially when he suddenly disappears. His new partner doesn't believe he did it, though, and sets out to find the real killer.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Dr. Chris Boswell (Raymond Young) alights from a train at Evenbridge station but there are no taxis outside to take him to Oakwood. He meets Walter Grannage (Russell Waters) who is also leaving the station but he only has a bicycle so cannot provide a lift. The station porter (Hal Osmond) advises Chris that he can walk to Oakwood in 20 minutes.

    At Oakwood, Chris is met outside the Welling's house by their young daughter Judy (Julie Somers). They go into the house where he meets Mary Welling (Jane Baxter) but her doctor husband is resting. Judy helps Boswell unpack and says he should go and meet the nurse Ann Marlow (Jean Lodge) which he duly does. Later in the day he meets Robert Welling (Patrick Barr).

    After playing in a cricket match, Chris visits an elderly patient of Dr. Welling, Sarah Oddy (Katie Johnson), and her husband Sam (Frank Tickle). Returning to the Welling's house, Robert offers Chris a partnership to work with him.

    That evening Walter visits the Wellings. While Walter is out of the room getting ready to leave, Robert mentions to Chris that Walter's wife died in an accident in the garden when she fell into a greenhouse. When Robert goes to say goodnight to Judy she is upset and he notices a picture of his wife smashed on the floor.

    The next day Chris leaves on the train for London with Walter in order to collect the rest of his belongings. Later that day, Mary takes a call from Mr. Pollard whose wife has gone into labour and is asking for the doctor. Robert and Ann leave to visit the patient; Robert seems tired but insists he is well enough to go.

    After delivering the baby, Robert again seems tired and Ann has to assist him. Realising the time, Robert insists they rush back home where they find Mary in severe discomfort in bed. Robert asks Ann to call an ambulance saying Mary has appendicitis. Ann does so and also tries to contact the hotel where Chris is staying. Afterwards she looks closely at the glass Mary drank out of earlier.

    At the hospital, Ann meets Chris and a doctor who informs them Mary has just died. The nurse says Robert has already returned home.

    Chris and Ann return to the house but Robert is not there and Robert's room is in a mess. Chris answers the telephone and tells Anne that an autopsy has revealed Mary died from arsenic poisoning.

    Superintendent Walshaw (Russell Napier) arrives and questions Ann and Chris and asks to see the poison cabinet. Despite Chris's thoughts that Robert is not to blame, Walshaw points out that only Robert and Judy were in the house at the time Mary was poisoned. Walshaw questions Judy upstairs in her bedroom but she says she heard nothing. Meanwhile, in another room, Ann tries to hide the duplicate key to the poison cabinet to hide evidence that Mary or anyone else may have had access to the poison but Chris catches her doing so. Ann is convinced Robert must be guilty because of his behaviour the night before but Chris is not so sure. Before Ann can finish hiding the key Walshaw comes in and takes it and asks them some serious questions about Robert again.

    That evening Chris and Ann talk again. Ann suggests that although Judy was supposedly asleep, having been given a sleeping tablet, she could have been awake and alone in the house with Mary while Ann and Robert were attending Mr & Mrs Pollard and Chris was in London.

    Next morning when Ann gets up, she sees the poison cabinet is open. She rushes to Chris in the living room and wakens him. They notice half the arsenic is missing and a boot print on a chair. They deduce that it can't be Judy's or Robert's but think it must be Mr Oddy's. They know they cannot leave the house with the police watching until their usual doctor's rounds later that day.

    When they get to the Oddy's house, Sam admits Robert is upstairs but he is drunk. When they finally rouse Robert, he explains that Mary had been putting arsenic in his milk at night, trying to kill him slowly. He says he knew and switched his and her glasses not realising that there was a larger fatal dose in the glass which was enough to kill her. The police arrive at the Oddy's. Walshaw says they have not found Robert yet but explains that Robert is heir to Mary's will until Judy comes of age.

    Back at the Welling's house Walter comes to visit but is surprised when Ann tells him Mary is dead and Robert is missing. After he has left, Judy comes in and tells Ann that Walter was in love with her mother and she had seen them together. Chris overhears them and after Judy has gone to bed, he discusses with Ann that Walter had access to the arsenic and could have had time to catch the train back from London the night of Mary's death without Chris knowing.

    At Walter's house, Chris enters through a side door and finds several pictures of Mary on the mantelpiece. Walter enters the room with a gun and admits he killed his own wife and still believes he has killed Robert and not Mary. He says he put the fatal dose in Robert's glass. Chris explains that Robert switched the glasses and that Walter should give himself up. Walter refuses and says Robert will be found guilty of Mary's murder. Chris starts a fight with Walter but Walter escapes to go after Robert. Ann arrives at Walter's followed by the police. Chris and Ann slip out of the side door and steal a police car to go after Walter. Out in the countryside, Walter finds Judy in the woods. He tries to convince her to stay with him but she gives him the slip and runs away to a watermill. Walter follows her inside, grabs her and forces her to take him to her father. She manages to slip out of his arms again and hides by the water wheel. Chris and Ann arrive closely followed by the police. As Walter forces open the access door to the water wheel, he slips and falls underneath it.

    Judy and her father Robert wave newlyweds Chris and Ann off as their train departs Evenbridge.

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