Stranger on the Third Floor

Synopsis: Rising reporter Michael Ward is a key witness in the murder trial of young Joe Briggs, who is convicted on circumstantial evidence while swearing innocence. Mike's girl Jane believes in Joe and blames Mike, who (in a remarkable sequence) dreams he is himself convicted of murdering his nosy neighbor. Will his dream come true before Jane can find the real murderer?
Director(s): Boris Ingster
Production: RKO Radio Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
64 min

There you are, lady.

- Is this seat occupied?

- Yes, please.

Well, that's too bad.

Would you mind

removing your purse?

I'm sorry, but this place

is taken.

I don't see anybody

sitting here.

- You will in a minute.

- The nerve of some people.

- Is this chair taken, Miss?

- Yes, it is.


Oh, it's you.

- Then, it's not taken?

- Stop clowning, Michael.

- Sit down.

- Thank you, Miss.

- You're late. What held you up?

- Something very important.

Drink your orange juice.

We haven't much time.

Oh, so you don't think

it was important.

Alright, wait till

you see the kitchen.

What kitchen?

What are you talking about?

Electric stove, refrigerator,

washing machine, everything.

Even a special hole

to dump garbage in.

Guess what else?

Whole wheat toast

and orange marmalade, right?

Right, it's a table.

A real table on four legs

with two chairs

so that two people can sit,

really see each other

without wrenching their necks

trying to catch a glimpse

in the mirror behind

the lunch counter.

That's what you were

doing this morning?

Whole works is 60 a month.

What happened?

Did you win the sweepstakes?

Better than that.

I got a $12 raise.

Michael, but how come?

If the girl I marry

were interested in my career

she'd have bought

the New York Star and found out.

Let me see.

- "By Michael Ward."

- A byline.

See what it says?

"Star Reporter." That's me.

Think you can get

a day off tomorrow?

- Why?

- To get married.

I think I can manage.

Michael Ward, the key witness.

Two and a half columns.

Not bad, eh?

I didn't know he was so young.

He looks like a kid.

'Some of them start young.'

Do you really think

he killed Nick?


I don't know, but... I have

a funny feeling.


Somehow, I wish you'd never been

near Nick's place that night.

What you talking about? That's

the break I've been waiting for.

If I hadn't, there'd be no story

and we wouldn't

be getting married.

- I know but..

- 'But what?'

Nothing, I... I guess

I'm just being silly.

It's becoming.

'Mmm, pass.'



Ah, why can't I get

a decent hand?

- Buy?

- Spades trump.

You think he'll get the chair?

- Who?

- Oh, these public defenders.

He should have

pleaded him guilty.

At least, he'd have saved

his life.

- Suppose he isn't guilty?

- What's the difference?

- He hasn't got a chance anyway.

- That's it, fellas.

Well, I'll be..

- Well. Well, look who's here?

- Hello, boys.

As I live and breathe

Michael Ward, the shining

light of journalism

the boy who made good.

You wanna look neat. Makes

a good impression on the jury.

Cut out the humor.

- Hiya, Tom.

- Tell me, Mr. Ward.

How does it feel to hold center

stage in this eternal drama?

- Shut up.

- You don't like it?

- 'Bet he likes the raise.'

- You good for a fiver?

Never mind.

Have they started yet?

They'll wait for you.

You're the star of this show.

Kill that stuff, will you?

Don't mind them. We're all

excited you got a break.

Thanks, Martin.

Aren't you guys going in?

What for? We know

how it's coming out.

- What makes you sure?

- What would they do?

Take a mug's word against

a gentleman of the press?

What the devil

are you talking about?

It isn't a question

of my word against his.

It's what I saw

with my own eyes.

I was going home.

I looked into Nick's lunchroom

to see if anyone

I knew was there.

- Well, did you see anyone?

- Yes, sir.

- Who was it?

- Briggs.

- You mean, the defendant?

- 'Yes, sir.'

'What was he doing?'

'Standing behind the counter near Nick'

'who was slumped

over the register.'

'What did you do?'

I ran into the place.

As I went inside,

I... saw Briggs look around

and dashed towards the kitchen

in the back.

- Did you follow him at once?

- No, I looked at Nick first.

- Go on.

- It wasn't very nice.

His throat was cut.

Blood was still dripping

into the open drawer

of the cash register.

Well, what did you do then?

I ran into the kitchen,

the back door was open

I looked into the alley,

but Briggs was gone.

I went back

and called the police.

You said you recognized

the defendant.

- Where had you met him before?

- At Nick's.

- When?

- Few days before he was killed.

Was at Nick's place when Briggs

came and ordered some food.

'When Nick brought it..'

'Go on.'

'Well, when Nick brought it'

'Briggs said he didn't

have any money.'

'Nick told him to get out'

'he wasn't in business

to feed deadbeats in New York.'

'What did the defendant do?'

He grabbed Nick and shouted

something like

"You wouldn't call me that

if I had a gun in your ribs."

'Then what happened?'

'Nick threatened to call the police.'

'I told Nick to leave him alone,

I'd pay for his food.'

- You're a reporter, Mr. Ward?

- Yes, sir.

As a newspaper reporter, you're

a trained observer of men...

'I object.'

Eh, what?

I object to this line

of questioning, Your Honor.

Oh... sustained.

'Very well, one thing more.'

You have stated

that you're absolutely certain

this is the man you saw

in Nick's on both occasions.

Now, be careful

because on your answer

may depend a man's life.

Are you absolutely positive

he is the same man?

- I am.

- That's all.

Your witness.

You said you saw the defendant

standing beside the body

of the lunchroom proprietor?

Yes, sir.

But did you see him actually

commit the murder?

- No, I didn't.

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Frank Partos

Frank Partos (2 July 1901, Budapest - 23 December 1956, Los Angeles) an American screenwriter, of Hungarian Jewish origin, and an early executive committee member of the Screen Actors Guild, which he helped found. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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