The Third Degree (1919) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • An expose of the methods used by a police-department to extract a confession from a suspect, regardless of innocence or guilt, and the effect and consequences on a family when an innocent member breaks under the interrogation methods and confesses to a crime he did not commit.

  • "The Third Degree," the hero is Howard Jeffries, Jr., son of a millionaire. Howard Jeffries, Sr., marries again, and we are told that the new Mrs. Jeffries and Robert Underwood, the rather fast roommate at college of Howard, Jr., had once been something more than friends. Howard, Jr., marries Annie Sands, a beautiful girl who had been a waitress in the college town. When the father hears who his son's wife is, there is a flare-up, and the young couple leave the house. Underwood has opened a curio store, and lost money that didn't belong to him. He writes to Mrs. Jeffries., Sr., telling her that unless she comes to him, he will shoot himself. Howard, Jr., remembers that Underwood owes him money, and goes to collect it. He is drunk, drinks more and falls asleep on the sofa. Underwood hides him. Mrs. Jeffries comes, refuses to have more to do with Underwood and leaves. Underwood shoots and kills himself. The sound wakes the young man who is trying to get out, is captured by the police. Under the hypnotic strain of third degree, he confesses to murder. It is bought out that a woman had called on Underwood, and the police try to fasten it on Annie. The girl suspects that it is the other Mrs. Jeffries, and get her to provide evidence that will show a suicide; but, to save her relative, lets it be thought that she was the woman of the visit. Old Jeffries, after the trial, determines to get his son a divorce on the sly, and Annie is bravely going on with the role she has taken. A lawyer friend of the family gets the older Mrs. Jeffries to confess, and the happy ending is near. - Moving Picture World 1919.


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