At an expensive villa In Paris, blind woman Marcelle Robart is reading Braille to her blind stepmother, Madame Robart. She hesitates when she hears someone coming up the stair. When Marcelle hesitates, Madame Robart berates her for stopping and insists that she has to be educated. Marcelle continues, and the parrot in the cage stirs. The door opens and Marcelle hesitates, and the figure clutches at the jeweled tiara and broach on Madame Robart’s chest. Marcelle is only able to make out figures, and sees a man knock Madame Robart to the floor and then run out with the necklace. The girl goes over and confirms that her stepmother is dead.
Three weeks later, McGill responds to an ad in the paper placed by Marcelle. The ad promises a substantial reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen jewelry. The butler, Stephane, reluctantly informs Marcelle that she has a visitor. She has Stephane bring McGill up, and the butler tells McGill that Marcelle is practically blind and has led a sheltered life. Stephane makes it clear that he’s protective of the girl.
McGill meets with Marcelle while Stephane secretly listens at the door. Marcelle wonders why she should hire McGill, and he assures her that he can do better than the police. She explains that she isn’t totally blind, and thanks McGill for not ignoring her handicap. Marcelle realizes that McGill is young, and explains that Madame Robart adopted her from an orphanage because they were both blind. The necklace and tiara were Robart’s prized possessions, and Marcelle wants them back because her mother loved them. McGill tells her that he charges $350 a week plus expenses, plus a bonus for what he recovers. Satisfied, Marcelle gives him a photo of the stolen jewelry. The broach was insured but not the tiara.
Stephane makes a call about McGill to someone. McGill leaves the study and Stephane quickly hangs up. The American overhears Stephane, and tells Marcelle that he’ll be in touch. Once she goes back into the study, McGill confronts Stephane and says that Marcelle told him that the butler was knocked unconscious before the theft. Stephane says that the thief wore a stocking mask and asks if he’ll be seeing McGill again, and McGill says that he will.
On the street, a man named Maurice follows McGill to a jewelry store. The jeweler evaluated the jewelry ten years ago, and explains that it was a reevaluation and they didn’t assess the tiara. McGill spots Maurice tail and leaves, He goes to an outdoor café and Maurice sits down nearby. Inspector Banard comes over and introduces himself, and says that Maurice is one of his men. He advises McGill not to work for Marcelle because the theft/murder is still under investigation, and the jewelry would be broken up and sold. McGill figures that as heirlooms they have historic value and are still in one piece, but Banard tells him that he has no choice and figures McGill will get in his way. He tells McGill to find some other work, and warns that Maurice will continue to follow him... but won’t help him.
That night, McGill is in his hotel room going over the information he’s gathered. The owner, Leon, arrives and McGill has him walk to the end of the hallway and come back. McGill turns off the lights and listens to Leon’s footsteps, and there’s a knock at the door. However, the neatly-dressed man is there introduces himself as Henri Thibaud. He explains that he paid Leon to go downstairs, closes the door, and explains that he was Robart’s closest friend. Henri is also the closest thing to Marcellle’s guardian, and insinuates that McGill took the job to take advantage of the girl. He asks if McGill has any information on the theft, and McGill promises that he’ll earn his money. Henry explains that his signature is required on all of Marcelle’s checks, and McGill promises him that he’ll collect his fee. The newcomer tells McGill not to harm Marcelle, and offers him $500 to leave Paris immediately. He raises the offer to $1,000, and McGill ushers him out.
The next morning, Maurice is watching the hotel. Inside, Leon warns McGill that he’ll get what information he wants but warns that it will be expensive. The owner points out Maurice and notes that he’s in the narcotics squad, and offers McGill the back way out. McGill goes out the front and calls a greeting to Maurice before going on his way.
Marcelle is playing solitaire when McGill calls and asks her to meet him at the gardens later that day. She says that she never goes out, but McGill insists and she agrees. Maurice follows McGill to the gardens, and watches as Stephane drives Marcelle there. She insists on going in on her own, and McGill escorts her inside. Marcelle explains that Robart didn’t want her going out on her own, and she said they didn’t need the outside. Once a month, Robart took her to a concert. They sit down and McGill asks Marcelle if she knows Banard and Henri. Marcelle identifies Henri as her closest friend and figures that he’s worried McGill will take advantage of her. She describes what happened the night of the robbery, and McGill asks if she would recognize the footsteps if she heard them again. McGill points out that Stephane was unconscious, and the maid Arlette was out. Robart only met with Henri.
As Stephane comes over to collect Marcelle, she asks McGill what aftershave he uses because she can smell it. He invites her to a concert, and Marcelle explains that Robart financed them as parties for the blind even though she couldn’t go. She is continuing the concerts, and the next will be in a week. Marcelle invites McGill and when Stephane objects, the girl says that she’s the hostess and can invite who she wants. McGill accepts Marcelle’s invitation and Stephane leads her away
Later at the hotel, Leon tells McGill what he’s learned. He confirms that the tiara was broken up and sold in 1956. McGill goes to see a family expert, Delacroix, and wonders if Robart’s claims of being of royal lineage are true. Delacroix wonders if the police would approve, and McGill points out that he’s paid. Satisfied, Delacroix says that the Robarts were never associated with the Court of Napoleon where the tiara came from. As McGill leaves, two thugs jump him. Maurice calmly watches as McGill fights them off, and finally intervenes when they get the upper hand. The thugs run off, and Maurice arrests McGill.
At the station, McGill tells Banard that Robart was wearing a paste copy of the tiara. Banard already knows the tiara was a fake, and doesn’t want McGill to spoil Marcelle’s illusions about her stepmother. The inspector has McGill’s background file and threatens to tell Marcelle what he is. McGill doesn’t care, and Banard officially tells him to get out of the investigation and Paris. Once McGill leaves, Banard makes a call.
At the Robart villa, McGill visits Marcelle. She says that Banard called and told her that McGill is a traitor and a bounty hunter. McGill insists that he works for money but he’s no traitor, and Marcelle is furious that she didn’t come right to her to tell her that the heirlooms were fakes. The American explains that Banard arrested him, and Marcelle talks about how Robart taught her that the world is filled with darkness and deceit. McGill insists that he didn’t betray Marcelle, but she yells at him to get out and stumbles into the wall. He goes over to help her, and she begs McGill for the truth. McGill promises that they’re not true, and Marcelle kisses him.
Later, McGill goes out. A lamp cleaner on a cherry picker takes out a rifle and fires at McGill. A nearby car’s lights come on and McGill, warned, runs for cover. He gets to his hotel and finds Maurice waiting for him. Maurice explains that he fired at the sniper and escorts McGill to his room as “protective custody.” As they go in, McGill knocks Maurice out and climbs out the window.
At the Robart Villa, Marcelle is reading when she hears footsteps on the stairs. The girl hears the footsteps and recognizes them, and gasps in fear. It’s Henri, who says who he is and suggests that they have a quiet night together. Marcelle apologizes for her imagination, and says that she knows why he came. She figures that he brought presents for the concert, and Henri assures her that she will continue with the concert. He gets out the presents and Marcelle makes the labels in Braille.
McGill arrives and Stephane escorts him in. he says that Henri is with Marcelle and assures him that there are no more phone calls he wishes to make. In the study, Marcelle and Henri are having a drink. Henry talks about the concert, and Marcelle says that they’re carrying on the tradition. McGill asks to talk to Marcelle alone, and leads Marcelle out. Once he’s alone, Henri takes out two bullets from his pocket watch case and puts them into the hidden rifle in his cane.
Outside, McGill tells Marcelle to go to her room. He assures her that it will only be for a little while until he settles things with Henri. She reluctantly agrees.
Maurice calls Banard and tells him what happened.
McGill goes back into the study and suggests that they open the presents. He figures that they contain drugs, and Robart and Henri distributed the “presents” to unsuspecting blind people. Henri offers him $10,000, and insists that killing Robart was a blessing to the world. He doesn’t bother denying that Robart ran a drug ring financed with the sale of the original jewels. Henri supplied the drugs and Robart distributed them at the concerts, but she didn’t let Henri in on the distribution. Now thanks to Marcelle, Henri knows who got what presents. Now he controls the whole business. McGill figures that someone else killed Robart, and Henri says that he has a new business associate but refuses to give his name.
McGill frisks Henri for a gun and, when he doesn’t find one, tells him that they’re going to the police. Henri gets his cane and fires it at McGill. McGill spots him and runs out the door, leaping over the balcony. As Henri prepares to fire his second shot, Banard runs in and shoots him dead. McGill thanks the inspector for his help and confirms that Henri didn’t kill Robart. Maurice runs in as Marcelle and Stephen come out. Marcelle hears Banard’s footsteps on the stairs and realizes that he’s the killer, and Banard draws his gun on McGill and Maurice. He says that Marcelle is hysterical, but Maurice realizes the truth. McGill disarms Banard, and Maurice leads his superior away.
The next day, Marcelle is sitting alone in her study when McGill arrives. Stephane tells McGill that Marcelle is sitting alone in the darkness and he tried to help her. McGill goes in and opens the drapes. He says that she can still feel the sunlight and she doesn’t belong in the dark. McGill reminds her that the concert is that afternoon, and says that they will go on. She asks him for his help, and McGill says that she has to do it herself. He tells her that it’s too dark in the study for her and leaves.
Later, McGill waits at the concert. Stephane escorts Marcelle in and she smells McGill’s aftershave. She realizes that he came to say goodbye, and he promises to come see her every once in a while. Marcelle asks him what he sees, and McGill says that he sees her as herself and others will as well. He kisses her hand and she goes into the concert.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 3, 2016