Steve Carter (Stephen Dunne) was convicted of arson and sentenced to ten years in prison. He has always maintained his innocence. After three years he is put on parole. Steve was accused of setting fire to the company of his former employer, Phillip Bellem (Don Beddoe).
Bellem owns The Bellem Music Company and Steve was a salesman for them. The company provides music to bars and other venues. Operators at the company play records and the sound is piped over phone wires to receivers that have been installed in bars and other businesses. They are in direct competition with George “Goldie” Harrigan (Robert Armstrong). Harrigan’s company owns and operates juke boxes.
Steve believes that either his replacement at Bellem’s, Carl Anson (George Meeker) or Goldie Harrigan was the arsonist and framed him for the crime. Dr. Robert Ordway (Warner Baxter) had examined Steve when he was arrested and found him fit for trial. He was also on hand to recommend him for parole. Steve hopes that Ordway will also investigate and find out who actually was the arsonist. Ordway declines to help.
Steve decides to find out the truth for himself. He ends up being accused of Anson’s murder. While Steve goes on the lam Ordway ends up tagging along with Police Inspector Manning (Cliff Clark) in the investigation. When Manning decides that Steve is guilty and refuses to investigate anymore, Ordway begins to feel that Steve was framed and picks up the investigation himself.
“The Crime Doctor's Diary” was released in 1949 and was directed by Seymour Friedman. It is an American murder mystery and is the last of ten crime doctor movies made by Columbia Pictures. There is no diary in “The Crime Doctor’s Diary”.
The show stealer of the film is Whit Bissell as the mentally handicapped Pete Bellem. He does a magnificent job at playing the simple-minded brother of Phillip Bellem. His character is not only sweetly charming but ends up being the one, although clueless of it, that solves the crime and reveals the killer. The killer is an amazing twist that comes out of left field and makes the movie one of the best of the crime doctor series.
The Bellem Music Company’s use of an on-demand music forum has been referred to as the precursor to the I-Pod. The company has an unlimited supply of records on hand that the client can choose from whereas the juke box is limited to whatever is loaded into the box.
By the time Warner Baxter played Dr. Ordway for the last time, he was suffering with severe arthritis. In 1951 he underwent a lobotomy to try to ease the pain. Some believe that he was actually suffering from end stage cancer when he underwent the procedure. The result was, he developed pneumonia and died May 7, 1951.
Lois Maxwell, who plays Jane Darrin, would go on to play Miss Moneypenny in the "James Bond" films.