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A Blueprint for Murder

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A Blueprint for Murder
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew L. Stone
(as Andrew Stone)
Produced byMichael Abel
Screenplay byAndrew L. Stone
(as Andrew Stone)
StarringJoseph Cotten
Jean Peters
Gary Merrill
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byWilliam B. Murphy
Color processBlack and white
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • September 1953 (1953-09)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Blueprint for Murder is a 1953 American film noir thriller film directed and written by Andrew L. Stone and starring Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters and Gary Merrill.[1]


Whitney "Cam" Cameron (Joseph Cotten) arrives at a hospital to be with his widowed sister-in-law Lynne (Jean Peters), whose stepdaughter Polly has died under mysterious circumstances. A doctor cannot determine the cause of the child's death.

Cam has great affection for his young nephew Doug (Freddy Ridgeway). He begins to fear for the boy's life when Maggie Sargent (Catherine McLeod), the wife of his lawyer, Fred (Gary Merrill), mentions that the dead girl's symptoms sound suspiciously as if she had been poisoned.

Fred reveals that the will of Cam's brother, who also died from unspecified causes, put all money into a trust for the boy. Lynne would inherit it all if anything happened to Doug.

Police, prodded by Cam, exhume the girl's body. Poison is found and Lynne is brought to court, where a judge dismisses the charges for a lack of evidence against her.

A desperate Cam cannot think of any way to keep Doug safe, particularly once Lynne decides to take the boy away to Europe for at least a year. Cam surprises them by turning up on the ocean voyage. He begins romancing Lynne, all the while plotting to poison her.

He slips a tablet from her belongings into a cocktail. Lynne goes to great lengths to castigate Cam for his suspicions and demonstrate that the tablet contained nothing but aspirin. Cam leaves her stateroom, but a few minutes later, Lynne's life is saved by the ship's doctor, proving that she did indeed possess poison. A court soon sentences Lynne to prison for life.



The film received a mostly negative review in The New York Times. The film critic wrote, "Andrew Stone, the writer-director who flavored last season's The Steel Trap with such intriguing semi-documentary finesse, misses by a good mile in his latest case history, A Blueprint for Murder ... However, Mr. Stone's plodding fixation on conventionalized justice, redundantly stressed in the hero's narration, sidesteps any surprises along the way. Indeed, it loses conviction altogether before the climax, when he traps the culprit aboard an ocean liner, squiring her intended victim and enough strychnine—as Mr. Cotten accuses her, twice—to choke a horse. 'This farce', replies the understandably surly Miss Peters, 'has gone on long enough.'"[2]


  1. ^ A Blueprint for Murder at IMDb.
  2. ^ The New York Times, film review, "New Suspense Film Opens at Palace", July 25, 1953. Accessed: July 6, 2013.
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