Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries S02E09 - Framed for Murder

Warning: Contains spoilers!
The episode kicks of on the set of a film. There is action going on everywhere and the director is filming a scene where a slave is being whipped. The scene is done and the director starts to film a scene where two Roman soldiers through spears into a screen. The scene is filmed and the Director calls cut but then he starts to notice blood seeping through the screen. When he goes to look the body of an older man is behind it. 

Credits roll

Phryne and Dot arrive on the film set where they are greeted by Mr Raymond Hirsch. He tells them that the whole film is in turmoil due to losing the leading man. They go to see the murder scene and are greeted by Jack and Hugh. Phryne tells Jack that Raymond called her in as they are childhood friends and it was she that alerted the police and Jack asks for her opinion. Phryne says due to the amount of blood the leading man must have been alive when he was speared and there are no signs of restraint but he smells like he drank himself to sleep. Phryne notices marks on the floor that suggest the leading man was dragged to the scene in his chair and placed there on purpose to get speared.  Jack says he will call in the police photographer and Raymond asks if it is not just a terrible accident. Phryne says shes quite sure its not and Jack asks who would want the leading man dead. 
Raymond says Donald Everton (the leading man) was a gentleman with no enemies and he was a professional that never drank in the mornings. Jack asks where Mr Hirsch was the night before and Raymond says he was out to dinner with a house guest. He says he wouldn't jepardise the film as he is already mortgaged up to the hilt.

Jack collects all the films workers to question them. He asks them if anyone saw Donald arrive that morning but no one answers. Clara Whiting, Raymond's assistant says she just assumed Donald was late but she saw him the night before at 8.17 when she dropped his script pages to his dressing room. Jack asks how she can be so sure of the time and she says she has a photographic memory. Jack asks her what time she left and she says 9pm and she didn't see anyone else around at the time. 

Phryne and Raymond go to check out the dressing room. Phryne notices a glass and a bottle mark but the bottle is nowhere to be seen. 

Outside the studio Hugh is looking through the bins for bottles. He finds one. Dot comes outside and gives him a hand and she finds a box full of film magazines. They then find a smashed glass. They take the glass inside and Phryne notices a purple lipstick on it. Dot says it is 'luscious bloom' Miss Lily Luscombe's favourite shade of lipstick. 

Phryne questions Lily and she says they were not romantically involved as Donald was twice her age but she was in his dressing room the night before rehearsing. Jack arrives to talk to Lily. Lily says Donald needed to rehearse as if he looked bad she looked bad also and she is a serious actress. Phryne asked if they often drink whilst rehearsing and Lily tells her it was impossible not to drink with Donald.  Lily says Donald got rougher as he drunk more and tried to 'cop a feel' but she would not kill him for that.

Jack and Phryne wonder whether Lily might have killed Donald whilst trying to defend herself but there were no signs of a fight on Donald. Phryne says Lily was worried that his performance would damage her reputation. Raymond approaches them to say that he is sending everyone home for the day but they will resume shooting the next day. Jack asks how he will do so without his leading man but Raymond says he will adjust the scripts. Phryne says maybe they will find someone better and Raymond tells her that action was not Donald strength - literally! Raymond shows Jack and Phryne part of the film where Donald was supposed to have entered the scene carrying Lily and thrown her on the bed but Donald can barely lift her and just places her on the bed. Raymond shows them the forth attempt at the scene Donald fails again and the director gets angry and storms into the scene fighting with Donald and punching him.

Phryne and Jack go to question the director. Jack says he has heard this wasn't Donald and his first fight. The director, Gordon Thackaway who is quite abrupt says he fights with everyone that is his job and he orders Clara to make him a coffee. Phryne asks what the fight was about and the director says that Donald could not do the job. Jack asks where he went the night before and the director asks why Phryne has to be there.  She reminds him she is bankrolling the film and thus his salary so he should answer the question. Clara arrives promptly with the coffee and Phryne comments on this. Clara says she always has coffee ready. Jack says he understands Gordon left at 7.30 and Phryne asks where he went. Gordon says he likes to have a drink after work but as they don't finish until 7pm anyone selling him alcohol would be breaking the law. Jack says he doesn't care and Gordon tells them he was at the back bar in the Peacock.  Gordon reprimands Clara for telling them about the fight but Jack tells him Raymond showed them the footage. Gordon says it was Raymond that threatened to fire Donald.

Phryne and Jack then go to talk to Raymond about this and Raymond said he did threaten it but it was an empty threat. Jack asks Raymond again where he was the night before so Raymond takes him to introduce him to his housemate Jefferson Clarke. Raymond tells him there has been a hold up with the film and Jefferson jokes that he hopes Raymond hasn't killed anyone. They break the news to Jefferson and Jack asks him what time they returned home from dinner the night before. Jefferson says 9pm and then they had people over to talk business as he is Vice President of Pegasus studios in Hollywood. Jack asks who attended the soiree and Jefferson says they can start with the maid. 

Whilst Jack is questioning the maid Phryne asks Raymond why Jefferson is there. Raymond tells her he is there to wire the local cinemas for sound. Raymond says he is considering a deal with Jefferson as Jefferson has told him if he signs when Pegasus release a film his cinemas will be the first to play it. They walk in on Jefferson on the phone he seems irate. He tells them the studio wants him to look after a young actor they are sending over. Raymond asks if he is any good. 

Back at the house Dot is reading the movie magazines. When Phryne arrives she attempts to hide them and Phryne tells her not to be embarrassed of her love of film.  They read an article about Vernon Palmer Jr the young actor who has come to Melbourne and is coming to dinner that night. 
Later that night at Phryne's dinner Raymond introduces Phryne to Vernon. Lily talks to Vernon in the dining room and swaps her name place to make sure she is sitting next to Vernon. Phryne and Raymond talk and Phryne asks him how he can afford an upcoming Hollywood star. Raymond says he has taken out a loan against his house but if he pays his cards right he will have access to more funds from the Hollywood studios as the President of Pegasus Studios is a big fan of historical epics. Raymond happily gives Phryne a peck on the cheek and walks away. Clara seeing this looks unhappy and downs her drink. Phryne asks if she is alright and Clara says they are meant to be modern women and be able to get all they want but she wonders if that is true. Phryne tells Clara that she and Raymond are just friends and Clara reapplies her lipstick. Phryne comments on the shade and Clara tells her Lily gave it to her. The party sit down to dinner and Lily comments that Australia is probably not the luxury Vernon is used to. Vernon says the only luxury he needs is his car. Raymond says he is not sure the budget can stretch to that and Phryne says she might have an idea. Phryne dresses Bert up in a chauffeur's livery and lets him drive Vernon in her car. 

Jack and Hugh arrive at the party and Hugh asks Mr Butler what Vernon is like. Jack tells him they are not there to stargaze, they need to see Phryne on police business. In the living room Jack tells Phryne and Raymond that Donald's body contained high level of a barbiturate but the spears still killed him. Jack says Hugh has been taking statements and found that Donald was regularly late for work and couldn't remember his lines. Raymond agrees that he was past his prime but says he couldn't sack him as one of his other investors, a bank only agreed to the funds if Donald was in the film. Jack wonders if Raymond's only option was to kill Donald but Raymond says he didn't kill him. Phryne asks who else knew about the situation and Raymond says only him and Clara. 

Phryne then questions Clara as she says someone that wears her lipstick was in Donald's room. Clara says she delivered his script pages and then stayed. Clara ask what is happening to Raymond and Phryne says she doesn't know. Clara says if the police think he killed Donald they're wrong as she did it. She says she smashed up pills and dissolved them in Donald's whiskey.  Phryne asks her why and Clara doesn't have an answer. Phryne tells her she doesn't know because she didn't do it but Clara says she did it and he can show Phryne the pills.  

Clara takes Phryne to a desk in the studio. She tells Phryne to look in the top drawer and Phryne finds the pills. Jack and Hugh arrive with Raymond to search Jefferson's office. They come across Phryne and Clara and Clara apologises. She says she has confessed and she killed Donald. Phryne asks Raymond if he is going to let Clara take the blame. Raymond says she has already confessed but Phryne tells him this is because she thinks he did it and Raymond says he did not drug Donald. Phryne remembers when Clara served them coffee she indicated to the director, Gordon which cup to take and she says to Raymond you have been drugging somebody. 

At the station Raymond confesses to drugging Gordon to calm him down. He said he got Clara to put it in Gordon's coffee 4-5 times a day. Jack asks how the pills ended up in Donald's whiskey but Raymond says he doesn't know. They let Raymond go as Phryne arrives at the station she tells Jack that if she had sat in on the interview they would get more answers but Jack says Raymond would hide up her skirt. Phryne tells him Raymond is no coward and once got 2 hours in a police cell and a sound whipping from his father for stealing peaches but never reveal Phryne was his accomplice. Jack says Raymond still lies.

Back at Raymond house Raymond is worried about the film. Jefferson says Raymond didn't even know that Vernon was in the country and Phryne says no, but you did. Jefferson says he is trying to help Raymond and the picture. Raymond says he will lose everything but Jefferson says if he signs with them Pegasus will wire him the money. Raymond is exhausted and turns in with a headache and Phryne asks Jefferson she can look at the contract but Jefferson says he left it at Raymond's office. 
The next day Phryne arrives on set with Dot and is greeted by Jefferson. Phryne tells him she made some inquiries with a friend in Los Angeles and Jefferson is not Vice President of Pegasus, he is in fact a junior sales representative.  Jefferson admits that he isn't vice president and film commences with Vernon throwing Lily on the bed, Lily pulls a knife and stabs Vernon. Gordon calls cut and the scene is a success. Phryne and Dot are impressed at Vernon's acting but Jefferson doesn't look pleased and takes Vernon aside for a word. Phryne goes to listen in and sees Jefferson hand Vernon an envelope.

Back on set Clara is showing Dot the knife and cloth covered in blood and shows her the blood is in fact treacle. Gordon calls Clara away for his coffee and Hugh arrives and asks Dot about Vernon's acting. Dot says he will be back soon to film the close ups for the scene. Whilst Gordon is waiting for the next scenes the lights go out. Phryne asks Hugh if he has seen the Americans (Jefferson and Vernon) but Hugh says no. Phryne goes to find them but the lights go back on before she can go. 
They start filming the scene from the part just before Lily stabs Vernon. Vernon turns and Gordon calls cut as a mark can be seen on Vernon's arm. Gordon tells Lily to stab Vernon in the heart instead and shows her how to do so on him but when he does it turns out the knife is real and Gordon has really been stabbed. The crowd clap thinking Gordon is acting but Phryne sees something is wrong and runs to his aid but it is too late and Hugh pronounces him dead.

At the police station Clara tells Jack that the knife before them is the one used for the stills, a real knife. Jack tells her the prop knife was found back in the props basket but Clara insists she left it out and put it ready for the close up on the table. Jack asks her when she last saw the knife and Clara says she put the prop knife on the table, spoke to Dot, then Gordon asked her for coffee so she got the coffee and then the lights went out.

Phryne tells Jack the lights were out less than a minute but Jack says that is long enough for someone to swap the knife. Phryne says the knife was meant to kill Vernon not Gordon. Jack asks why someone would want to kill two leading men and Phryne says to scuttle the film. Jack ask her how well she really knows Raymond and Phryne says he is a dreamer, with boundless dreams. 

Phryne and Jack go to question Raymond. They ask him if the film is insured to pay out if it isn't completed. Raymond says no policy would do that it would only cover his losses. Jack wonders if an opportunity for covering his loses on a the film would drive him to murder. Raymond gets agitated and tells them that he supposes they wouldn't believe he was on his sick bed, Phryne says that given he lied about things before like drugging the director they have to ask. Phryne says if the film is to be completed they will need a director, someone that can keep an eye on things. Raymond agrees to let Phryne do the job and asks if she can operate a camera. Phryne says of course.

That night Phryne goes to the studio to look at the cameras while she is there she hears a noise so drawing her gun she goes to investigate. She finds Jefferson in the office and asks him why he is there and he says he could ask her the same. Jefferson says he was calling the boss. Phryne asks why he was in Australia and he says to sign up the movie houses for sound. Phryne asks whats in it for the company and he says the see the country as an important market but Phryne tells him to spare her the sales pitch and he says the more he gets signed up the more commission he makes. He said he liked Raymond and wanted to help him out but it doesn't matter now because without a director the film is sunk. Phryne tells him that's where he is wrong. 

That night Burt drives Vernon to a the Grand and before he has a chance to pull away he notices Vernon does not go inside and instead evades him and walks down the street.
The next morning Phryne and Dot arrive at the studio ready for her directing debut. Cec and Burt are there to meet her.  Burt says that he followed Vernon to a 'flophouse' in Little Lon Street and Cec says he asked at the Grand and no one had heard of Vernon. Clara arrives and ask Phryne if she wants the loud speaker. Phryne says it is not her style but asks for the days scenes. Clara says she was just about to deliver them to Vernon but Phryne takes them saying she will do it. Raymond arrives and Phryne tells him Clara would walk over hot coals for him and then says she is going to talk to Vernon but instead he makes Dot keep watch and searches Vernon's dressing room. There she finds boot polish with a hair stuck in it  and an empty envelope. and in the bin, a scrap of torn paper.

Vernon arrives so Dot diverts him by asking for an autograph as Phryne collects the torn up paper from the bin. Vernon enters his dressing room and Phryne says she was delivering his scenes. She asks him how he is enjoying the Grand and he says its a nice little place. She readjusts his hair saying it is out of place and as she leaves smells her fingers as they are covered in boot polish.

Raymond introduces Phryne to the cast and Phryne serves them a beautiful buffet breakfast with champagne. Raymond tells Phryne that the actors playing the palace guards have walked out as they haven't been paid so Phryne recruits Cec and Burt. They attempt to film the scene but Cec and Burt have some acting troubles so Phryne calls cut. Vernon tells her the scene doesn't make sense as he is meant to be the hero so he doesn't know why he would have to sneak past the guards. Vernon says if it was Douglas Fairbanks he would take out his sword kill the guards, grab a rope and swing them both out of there. Phryne says that's brilliant and tells Vernon to take a break and they can commence filming the next afternoon after they have done the rewrites but Vernon says if they get him a rope hung he can walk them through it.

At home Phryne is flicking through a movie magazine and she questions why Vernon would be darkening his hair. Dot wonders if he is going grey. Phryne says at his age but then says maybe all the daring actions films have aged him prematurely. Dot tells her Vernon does not do his own action scenes he just smiles and kisses the girls. Phryne says he is very good at the action for someone who doesn't do it. While they are talking Dot is reassembling the torn shreds of paper Phryne fished from the bin. It turns out to be a cheque made out to Jamie Allen signed by Jefferson Clarke. Dot asks who he is and Phryne has a flash of inspiration. She finds a feature article in one of the magazines that is about Vernon and his stand-ins. She looks carefully at one of the photos and sees the stand in is in fact their Vernon!

Phryne is distracted by a call from Raymond. Phryne goes to see Raymond and he says that Jefferson will not allow him to screen his own picture in his own cinemas and he signed the contract to agree as he needed the money from the studio. Phryne goes to talk to Jack and tells him the contract says Raymond's cinemas can only film Hollywood films made by the studio. Jack asks if it wasn't Jefferson who suggested the Hollywood star and Phryne says she thinks Jefferson and Vernon were in it together as they sabotage the film by drugging Donald and then Jefferson offers to help with the contract and get control of Raymond's cinemas that way.  Jack asks if they killed a man to get control of the cinemas. Phryne says she suspects Vernon had second thoughts as Jefferson tried to pay him off but the cheque was ripped up. Jack says he will bring in Vernon from the Grand but Phryne tells him he isn't there and he isn't Vernon.

They bring in Vernon/Jamie. Jamie admits to being the real Vernon's stand in but says he had a fall and busted his leg so he couldn't do the stunts. He said he met Jefferson on the boat home and they got talk. Jefferson tracked him down and says he has acting work. Jamie says the day before Jefferson had come to him and told him he was doing too good a job of acting and offered him money to leave town but he refused and it wasn't long after that Gordon was stabbed with a knife meant for him. Phryne asks Jamie where he was when the fuses blew and he says in his dressing room but Jefferson wasn't with him. Phryne says Jefferson could have blown the fuses and Jack says he knows a way to work it out.

Jack call in Clara but she tells him she can only remember the things she saw just before and directly after the blackout. She says before the blackout she was heading to Gordon with a cup of coffee and saw Dot, Hugh, Jefferson and Lily who was heading back to makeup carrying a glass of water. Phryne asks if she still had the glass when the lights came on and Clara says yes but it was empty. Phryne asks what was between the last place she saw Lily and the makeup chair and Clara says the lights went out. Jack says that's how Lily blew the fuses by dousing the floodlight with the water. Phryne says that would have given Jefferson enough time to change the knife while Lily shorted the lights. Jack says he will go to pick up Jefferson if she goes to the studio.

Phryne heads into the studio her gun drawn and overhears an argument between Lily and Jefferson. Jefferson has a head injury and Lily has him tied to a chair with film. Jefferson is begging with Lily that he will make her a star but she says she doesn't believe him as Vernon is his star now.  Phryne arrives at the scene and points her gun at Lily but Lily threatens to light the film. Phryne asks Lily why she is doing it and Lily says Jefferson promised he would take her back to Hollywood if she sabotages the film. Jefferson said he didn't tell her to kill anyone but Lily said he gave her the tablets. Lily said she thought Donald was dead so she put him behind the set to make his death look like an accident. Lily tells Jefferson he did it for her but he says she did it just so she could go to Hollywood and she won't make it there either. Jack and Hugh arrive at the scene and sneak in  diverting Lily with a light and tackling her to the ground. Lily drops the lighter which sets the film alight but Phryne shoots a sandbag which drops sand and puts out the fire.

The next morning Phryne and Jack are on set with Raymond and Clara and they tell them that Jefferson had not sent the contract off to the home office yet. Raymond asks if the studio will send more like him and Phryne says they will fight them off or beat them at their own game with Jamie Allen, Australia's new leading star and making her debut as Australia's new leading lady, Clara Whiting. Clara says she knows the role and Phryne announces the movie as the Bride of Babylon the all talking moving picture. Raymond agrees and they shake on it.

Back at home Phryne has the slave actor chained to the bed when she is disturbed with a knock from Mr Butler telling her Raymond has arrived with a lot of machinery. Phryne comes down to watch a viewing of the film. Jack is there recording the voice of the solider played by Cec. Jack records the one line and says hes sure it will make all the difference. Phryne says it has made all the difference to Raymond as he has achieved his boyhood dream and asks Jack what his boyhood dream was and Jack says it was to ride the tour de France and asks Phryne what her girlhood dreams were but Phryne says she is living them!

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