Synopsis: Lew Harper is a Los Angeles based private investigator whose marriage to Susan Harper, who he still loves, is ending in imminent divorce since she can't stand being second fiddle to his work, which is always taking him away at the most inopportune of times. His latest client is tough talking and physically disabled Elaine Sampson, who wants him to find her wealthy husband, Ralph Sampson, missing now for twenty-four hours, ever since he disappeared at Van Nuys Airport after having just arrived from Vegas. No one seems to like Ralph, Elaine included. She believes he is cavorting with some woman, which to her would be more a fact than a problem. Harper got the case on the recommendation of the Sampsons' lawyer and Harper's personal friend, milquetoast Albert Graves, who is unrequitedly in love with Sampson's seductive daughter, Miranda Sampson. Miranda, who Harper later states throws herself at anything "pretty in pants", also has a decidedly cold relationship with her stepmother, Elaine.
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director(s): Jack Smight
Production: Warner Bros.
  1 win & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
121 min

Lew Harper for Mrs. Sampson.

- Yes?

- Lew Harper.

Park it over there.

This way, Mr. Harper.

- Mrs. Sampson?

- That's right.

Lew Harper.

Albert Graves telephoned. Said

you needed me for something.


- A drink, Mr. Harper?

- Not before lunch, thanks.

- I thought you were a detective.

- New type.


Albert Graves is one of our lawyers.

It's on his recommendation I'm hiring you.

It's about time he threw

some business my way.

I've known Albert since he was DA up here.

Oh. He said you were good at finding things.

My husband's...

You're sitting on my robe.

My husband's disappeared.

Tried Missing Persons?

Well, that might mean publicity.

Ralph loathes publicity.

Besides, he's got an

abnormal fear of the police.

I simply want you to find him and

tell me which female he's with.

- Any particular female?

- I haven't the least notion.

Ralph need never know about this.

He'd be sure I was gathering

material for divorce proceedings.

Actually, I have no

intention of divorcing him.

I only intend to outlive him. I

only want to see him in his grave.

- What a terrible thing to say.

- People in love will say anything.

I used to love him, before we were married.

But after we took our

vows, I had an accident,

and that very same week Ralph started

fooling around with a new lady.

It's taken me a while to forgive him.

A long, long while.

When did your husband...

Don't you want to know what happened to me?

Not necessary.

- When did your husband disappear?

- Yesterday.

Our pilot, Allan, flew Ralph down from Vegas.

When they reached the airport,

Allan put the plane away.

When he came back, Ralph

had given him the slip.

- Any particular reason?

- Drunk.

I don't like him drunk on the loose.

He gets sloppy, sentimental.

He gives things away.

Last time it happened, he

gave away a whole mountain.

He gave it to some semi-nude

religious nut from Los Angeles.

You know, LA is the big

league for religious nuts.

That's 'cause there's nothing to do at night.

If you can find him quickly, I'd be grateful.

And if he's with another woman, I'd be...

Well, more than interested.


You're lurking in doorways again.

I did not want to interrupt.

You can go now. I'll have

my lunch up here as usual.

Thank you.

Allan's down by the pool.

Any more particulars you

want you can get from him.

I'll leave the matter of fee

up to Albert Graves to settle.

Did you drive up from LA?

Leave your car here.

Felix will drive you to Albert's

office. It's only 10 minutes away.

Goodbye, Mr. Harper.

It would help some if I knew

what your husband looked like.

Oh, silly of me.


You can keep that one.

"A poor thing, but mine own. "

Where's the telephone?

I have to call Los Angeles.

Do you got one with a little more privacy?

That's the phone the help's supposed to use.

- Hello.

- Hello, Fred? It's Lew.

Is Susan there yet?


Tell her I'm not gonna

be able to make it today.

I got called in on a situation.

And we were going to get

everything settled today.

Where is he this time?

I'm up in Santa Theresa.

Tell her Albert Graves called.

Said he needed me for

something. She'll understand.

Something about Albert Graves needing him

and you'll understand.

No. No, I don't.

I've been trying to get this divorce

thing settled for too long now,

and I have lately been

running low on understanding.

- She says she's...

- I heard.

Tell her that I...

We're supposed to be

handling this like adults.

Now, I don't want a screaming match,

but the last time we were going

to meet something came up, too.

It wasn't my fault.

- He says it wasn't...

- I heard.

I don't care what he says.

He's just trying to stall because he

thinks I'm gonna change my mind about this.

Well, I may change a lot

of things from now on,

but my mind isn't about to be one of them.

Look, let me speak to her, will you?

- Here.

- No.

Would you put her on?

Take it. Talk to him.

I have taken it. Every year

since we were married I took it.

And I've talked to him, too.

He holds no more surprises.

No more nothing.

You hear me, Lew? I don't love you.

And you can get shot in some stinking alley

and I'll be a little

sorry, sure, but that's all.

Just a little sorry.

Tell him that, lawyer. Tell

the man he is not loved.


Hey. Top of the morning.

- Allan Taggert.

- Lew Harper.

That's Mr. Sampson's daughter.



Lew Harper.

- Could we talk?

- Sure.

Can you tell me something...

My stepmother, Lady Macbeth,

is always going to extremes.

Meaning me, Miss Sampson? I'm

a very moderate type fella.

Not you especially.

Everything she does is extreme.

Other women fall off horses

without getting paralyzed.

Not Elaine. I think it's

psychological, don't you?

You've been reading too many books.

That's something they'll never accuse you of.

She's not a raving beauty anymore.

- Can I have a sandwich?

- Yes.

So she retired from competition.

Falling off the horse

gave her a chance to do it.

And for all I know she did it intentionally.

And you've got to admit it's pretty extreme,

hiring a private detective

when your husband's been gone just one night.

That may be so, Miss Sampson.

Tell me about Sampson's disappearance.

He disappeared.

Yesterday afternoon about 3:30,

we flew in from Vegas and

landed at Van Nuys Airport.

I let Mr. Sampson off at

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William Goldman

William Goldman (born August 12, 1931) is an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. He came to prominence in the 1950s as a novelist, before turning to writing for film. He has won two Academy Awards for his screenplays, first for the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and again for All the President's Men (1976), about journalists who broke the Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon. Both films starred Robert Redford. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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