Bluebeard (1944)

John Carradine as artist Gaston Morrell

Bluebeard on IMDB

All Paris is frightened by the murders attributed to "Bluebeard". Modiste Lucille (Jean Parker) is introduced to Gaston Morrell (John Carradine), a puppeteer and painter, by her friend. They are attracted to each other, and she accepts a commission to design some costumes for his puppets.

At home, Morrell is confronted by a jealous Renee (Sonia Sorel), who performs in Morrell's puppet show and is his lover. When she wonders what became of the models who had posed for him, he strangles her, then dumps her body in the Seine River.

Art dealer Jean Lamarte (Ludwig Stössel) is aware of Morrell's homicidal tendencies, but keeps his secret, as Morrell's paintings fetch high prices. However, the normally discreet Lamarte makes a mistake in selling Morrell's last work to a duke. When the duke exhibits his collection, a policeman on guard recognizes the portrait as being that of one of Bluebeard's victims.

Inspector Lefevre (Nils Asther) of the Sûreté calls in one of his best undercover agents, Francine (Teala Loring), who happens to be Lucille's sister. She and her "father" go to Lamarte to have her portrait done. Lamarte is on his guard, but her father is willing to pay a very large commission to find the man responsible for the duke's painting, and Lamarte's greed overcomes his caution.

Morrell has decided to give up painting (which triggers his murderous compulsion) out of love for Lucille, but Lamarte pressures him into one last picture to make him financially independent. However, Francine recognizes him, having met him briefly earlier at her sister's apartment, and Morrell has no choice but to dispose of her. Certain that Francine and her father were working for the police, Lamarte tries to flee, but Morrell catches him and kills him too, before escaping. The only clue he leaves behind is the cravat he used to strangle Francine.
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