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The Property of a Gentleman Recap

At a country manor, a guard locks up the gate. Inside, an orderly wheels an old man in a wheelchair to a painting. The old man, Chester Farson, stares at the painting--“ Property of a Gentleman” by Suzanne Valadon--and then gestures for the orderly to turn him to the other paintings on the wall. Two men come in and one confirms that Vance is on the way. The other worries that Vance is late.

Dr. James Vance arrives at the gate and the guard lets him drive through. The newcomer enters the manor.

Chester is in his room complaining about being moved when the two men, Gerald and Charles, come in. Chester’s son Gerald assures Chester that the nurses are doing they okay, but Chester continues complaining. Vance arrives and Chester asks if the doctor wants money to treat him while he suffers. The doctor checks Chester, who complains that he doesn’t have long but insists that they’re not going to let him die. He reminds his sons that they have to honor their agreements and he has to be kept alive. Vance is satisfied and Chester demands the paper and then orders them all out. Out in the hallway, Vance says that Chester could have an attack any minute.

Gerald and Charles go to the next room where a man named Gray is waiting. Gray goes to the one-way mirror and observes Charles, and turns to reveal that he looks just like Chester.

Later, McGill arrives at an auction house in London. He spots his new client, Jane Farson, and sits down next to her. Jane tells McGill that “Property of a Gentleman” is coming up next. As they put the painting up for bid, Jane insists that she grew up with it and is sure that it’s the same painting. The bidding starts at 30,000 pounds, and Jane finally leaps up and insists that the painting is a fake. The auctioneer has the guard escort Jane out, and McGill motions at her to keep quiet.

Once Jane leaves, the bidding continues and the painting finally goes for 110,000 pounds. McGill makes note of the bidder and leaves. Outside, he meets Jane and insists that the bidders were experts and they were all sure that the painting was neither a forgery nor stolen. Jane points out that the name of the seller is anonymous, and McGill tells her to wait outside while he asks. A minute later, McGill joins Jane in her car and says that the auctioneer refused to reveal the identity of the vendor. However, the provenance is authentic. Jane insists that her father Chester would never sell the painting, and wonders why he’s turn against her without explanation.

After stopping for McGill to get his car, he and Jane drive separately to the Farson manor. While Jane waits down the road in her Rolls Royce, McGill pulls over and pretends to have tire trouble. He asks the guard, Logan, if there’s a garage nearby, and Logan tells him that he has a long walk. As McGill gets out the spare, Jane pulls up and demands to see Chester. Logan refuses, saying that he has orders not to let her through. Gerald walks up and Jane asks her brother what’s going on. Gerald claims that Chester has ordered her to be turned away, and let’s slip that he knows she made a scene at the auction house. After Gerald goes back to the manor, Jane drives away.

Gerald visits Charles and discovers that he’s dead.

McGill asks Logan if he wants to earn some money. Logan comes over to change the tire, and McGill casually asks what’s inside. He offers Logan some more money and the guard wonders for what.

Gerald gathers the staff and Vance comes in. He informs them that some of them will be joining his staff and others will work for Charles... immediately. Gerald says that Chester is too ill to be disturbed and only Vance and Nurse Jennings will be allowed in the old man’s room. Gerald then goes up stairs and wakes up Gray, and tells him that he’s on. Gray goes to his makeup table and insists that he’s never missed a cue, and Gerald worries that Gray isn’t ready. The actor insists that he needs time to perfect his impersonation, and then apologizes and goes to Chester’s room with Gerald and Charles and takes the old man’s ring.

Later, McGill meets Gerald at a nearby bar. Gerald is waiting and introduces himself, and McGill says that Jane believes Gerald and Charles are keeping Jane out. The brother explains that Chester split his six million pounds equally between the three of them years ago, and McGill explains about the painting. Gerald suggests that the painting is a different Valadon, and offers to take McGill to Chester.

McGill accepts and they drive to the manor. Gerald shows him “Property of a Gentleman” handing on the wall, and McGill admits that it would take an expert to detect a forgery. Gray is waiting in bed and feigns being asleep. The actor “wakes up” and advises McGill to spend his time admiring his collection rather than working for Jane. Gray snaps at Gerald, who insists that they’re not thinking of selling. Amused, McGill asks about the auction painting and thought it was Chester’s, and Gray dismisses Jane as overreacting. The actor continues on, saying Jane and her mother had little sympathy for him, and tells McGill to give his message to Jane. Out in the hallway, Gerald asks McGill to let Jane done gently.

Gerald goes back into the room and Gray asks how his performance was. The brother assures him that he did fine and tells him to bring it down a bit if there’s a repeat performance. As Gerald leaves, Gray asks for a drink. Gerald tells him that they’ll celebrate once the performance is over. Once he’s alone, Gray fills his flask from a hidden stash.

McGill visits Jane and tells her what he learned. She insists that thanks to her photographic memory, she’s sure that the real Suzanne was sold at the auction house. She points out that if Chester were against her then he wouldn’t have left her a fortune. Jane offers McGill more money to do two things: deliver her letter to her father and get a color photo of the Suzanne at the manor. He agrees and makes a call to track down Logan.

Logan is betting the horses when McGill finds him. McGill explains that he wants to take another look at the paintings, and pays Logan to get him in past the security system that night. Logan agrees and takes his money.

At the manor, Gray is drinking and complaining about the cheap food Gerald is bringing him. Gerald comes in and sees the flask, and the actor demands to see “his” daughter.

McGill drives back to the manor that night ad Logan lets him in through a window. Logan then tells another guard, Joe, that they have an intruder and sends him to deal with McGill. Inside, McGill takes photos of the painting when Joe attacks him. McGill easily dispatches him and then leaves as Logan and the other guard arrive. The ex-agent sets off the alarm on the window and leaves it open, and when the guards run up they assume McGill has fled outside. They go out the window and McGill slips into Gray’s bedroom.

The actor has no choice but to play along, and tells McGill to get him the hidden bottle of brandy. McGill gives him Jane’s letter and they share a drink. The actor starts chatting about his time in LA and then Texas, and McGillis surprised that Jane never mentioned her father was in the States. The alarm goes off again and Gray tells McGill to slip out the window. As McGill goes, he asks if he can bring Jane to see Gray. Gray refuses but tells McGill to tell Jane that her father never stopped loving her.

Slipping across the grounds, McGill ducks the guard and knocks out Logan at the gate. The ex-agent takes Logan’s gate keys and lets himself out,

Later, McGill shows Jane the photos he took. She’s sure that it’s identical to the one she saw as a child, and figures that her father hired the guards to keep her out. McGill gives Jane Gray’s message, and she says that Chester never used the word “love” in his life. When McGill mentions that Gray was drinking, Jane says that Chester never touches the stuff. She insists that her father is never sociable and never been to the States. Jane demands to see her father, and offers to pay McGill to get her in. When he wonders if she knows anyone, Jane suggests that McGill talk to Vance at his club.

McGill and Jane go to the club and meet with Vance. Jane claims that Gerald called her to say that her father had a relapse, and they usher Vance out to see the old man. They drive to the manor and McGill tells Vance to drive to the house once Logan opens the gate. When Logan comes out, McGill jumps him and the other guard. He and Jane run across the grounds and Gray sees them coming. The befuddled and drunken actor realizes that it’s Jane and thinks that she’s his daughter rather than Chester’s.

Jane and McGill go to the gallery and discover that someone has moved the paintings around. She examines “Property of a Gentleman” up close, while Gerald and Charles spot them. Gerald sends his younger brother to get Gray, and then confronts the intruders. Jane realizes that the painting is a copy.

Charles discovers that Gray is gone.

Gerald says that their father is in no condition to see her. Charles comes in and says that he has to speak Gerald, and Gray wanders down the stairs. Jane is astonished to see her father walking since he’s paralyzed, and Gerald realizes that his plans are shot. He pulls the wig off of Gray, and McGill assures him that he was convincing. Gray apologizes for letting down his audience and goes to get a brandy. Gerald takes prepares to show Jane and McGill the truth, but Charles blocks the door. He draws a gun, and McGill easily disarms him.

The room leads to the wine cellar containing a wardrobe. Chester’s corpse is inside, and Gerald explains that he died a natural death. Chester sets the whole thing up to avoid the government tax on his children’s inheritance. They considered letting Jane in on the scheme, but Chester thought that she’d be too squeamish. Vance arrives and says that he may have to record the real date of death because of the risk to him. The doctor sold the painting--a parting gift from Chester--because he was free to do what he wanted with it. Vance caves and Jane assures her brothers that they don’t have to worry about McGill.

Back in the gallery, Gerald offers McGill any painting he wants. He considers and then takes a Modigliani worth $100,000. He leaves the family to discuss their brandy and takes the painting to Gray. The actor is passed out with the brandy in his hand, and McGill realizes that Gray is dead. He goes back and tells the family that Gray is dead. Jane asks McGill to help them again, but he refuses and walks out.

Written by Gadfly on Jan 9, 2016

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