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70,000 Witnesses

70,000 Witnesses(1932)

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Westfield chief of detectives Dan "Mac" McKenna, a former New York police detective, plans to attend the football game between State and University when he hears that State halfback Walter "Wally" Clark's life has been threatened because an unknown power wants him out of the game. On the train to the stadium, Dan meets his old friend, New York reporter Johnny Moran, a perennial drunk, and notices that two former associates of gambler Slip Buchanan are also onboard. Wally is unconcerned about the death threats. At his fraternity house, his best friend, quarterback Buck Buchan, receives a call from his brother Slip, who has put him through college. Wally and his sister Dorothy, who is Buck's girl friend, are unaware that Buck's brother is a notorious gangster. Slip now asks Buck to drug Wally so the game will be thrown, since he has received $350,000 in bets on University winning the game, and if Wally is playing, State will probably win. Buck is horrified by the proposition, but, afraid greater harm will come to Wally if he does not help Slip, he takes the vial of a sedative that Slip gives him to use on Wally. Buck later discards the vial. Unknown to Buck, Slip still arranges for a back-up plan to oust Wally out of the game. Buck sticks by Wally's side during the game until he is taken out because his interference is causing State to lose. During half-time, Wally gets a rubdown from team doctor Collins, and Buck is put back in the game in the second half as a replacement for an injured player. During a crucial play, Wally nearly makes a touchdown, but instead he suddenly collapses and is immediately sent to the hospital where he dies. Doctors are mystified by his death, and an autopsy ordered by Mac reveals that Wally's brain exploded. Buck, a prime suspect in Wally's death, takes the first train out in the morning to visit Slip, who has already left town after University won the game. Buck accuses Slip of killing Wally, although Slip denies this, and Buck is later arrested by police who bring him back home. Mac questions all suspects and the next day regroups the teams to replay the game, without an audience, with Greenwood taking Wally's place. Everyone plays the game as they remember, but Greenwood breaks down under the pressure, and Buck then plays the part of his dead friend. In the locker room at half-time, Buck recalls that Collins used a special bottle of liquid for Wally's rubdown, and insists he do the same for him. During the same play, Buck runs for a touchdown and collapses. While he is rushed to the hospital, Collins runs into the locker room, followed by Slip. Johnny follows both men, and hears Slip accuse Collins of killing Wally and trying to kill Buck. Collins denies the accusation, but then admits that in order to slow Wally down, he rubbed nitroglycerine into him during his rubdown, but did not expect the over-exertion of the athlete to cause his death. Collins, clutching the bottle of nitroglycerine, threatens to blow the building up, at which point Johnny leaves. Slip shoots Collins, who throws the bottle, causing an explosion that kills him and Slip. Later, Johnny reports to his newspaper that Collins was working with gangsters and was blackmailed into throwing the game. Buck recovers with Dot by his side.