The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse - Recap

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Jim rides into town of Whittenberg and leaves his horse with a blacksmith. Colonel Pellargo and his men walk down the street and Jim greets Pellargo. Pellargo’s bodyguards immediately attack Jim. He gets thrown through a window but quickly jumps back and defeats them. Artie arrives and Jim finishes his introduction. Pellargo is impressed and approves of the fact the government has assigned them to protect him.

While Artie waits below, Jim accompanies Pellargo and his remaining bodyguard to a second-story photographic studio and notes that he could easily have assassinated the colonel. In response, the “bodyguard” reveals that he’s the real Pellargo, and the other man is a double. The photographer comes in and prepares Pellargo for his photo. The colonel boasts that he distributes portraits of himself in lieu of bread, much to Jim’s distaste. The agent points out that poverty is the reason that they sometimes try to assassinate him. The photographer takes the picture, releasing a cloud of poison gas. He runs out and locks the door, then removes his disguise. When Artie goes up the stairs to stop him, the assassin hits him over the head and runs past.

Unable to get through the locked door, Jim leaps out the window onto a wagon of bags beneath. He shoots the assassin in the arm but the killer goes into a dead-end alley and passes through a concealed door. Artie arrives and the two agents search for the assassin but find nothing except a bloodstained Lavendor cufflink. As they go, Artie leaves a bloodstain on the poster.

Inside a funeral home, Fabian Lavendor is attending to his newest client. The assassin, Claudio Antille, comes in and the mortician, unsurprised, directs him into the workshop. Lavendor tends to Antille’s bullet wound and confirms that he completed his job. Antille warns that the agent guarding Pellargo came after him, and Lavendor explains that he’s provided accommodations. He shows the assassin an empty coffin shelf, much to Antille’s disgust.

At the saloon that night, a drunken man staggers out onto the street. Lavendor approaches him and eventually catches and strangles him.

At the Wanderer, Leda Pellargo meets Jim. He gives her a telegram from the President expressing their condolences, but Leda is unimpressed. Jim informs her that they’ve identified the killer as Claudio Antille and explains that the U.S. has been made to look responsible for Pellargo’s death. Artie arrives and privately tells Jim that they’ve found Antille... dead.

Jim escorts Leda to the New Dawn Funeral Home to see her husband’s murderer. Lavendor greets them and offers his condolences. He explains that Antille was brought there because two laborers found Antille nearby, left the corpse with Lavendor, and left. He claims to have identified the corpse from the papers. Jim signs off on the papers and Lavendor escorts them to the chapel to view the body. Leda weakens at the sight and Lavendor leads her away to compose himself. Jim examines the corpse and notices that it has a scar on its right hand and a missing cufflink. Jim checks and confirms that there is a similar cufflink on the corpse’s other sleeve. Satisfied, Jim collects Leda and goes.

Once Lavendor, is alone, he goes to the chapel and apologizes to the corpse for disposing of it so hastily. He then puts the lid on the coffin and starts giggling. Antille enters the room and joins in with him.

Back at the Wanderer, Jim and Artie are building a matchstick tower and finishing the paperwork. Jim still isn’t assured and wonders how Antille escaped them and how he so conveniently died. Artie points out that Antille matched Jim’s description, the identity papers confirm Antille’s identity, and the cufflinks match. Jim still isn’t convinced and tells his friend that things aren’t always what they seem to be... and tosses him the matchstick tower.

At the mortuary, a bandaged Antille nervously paces the workshop. When Lavendor arrives, he assures him that the bandages can be removed. Before he can begin, Antille asks if he doesn’t like his new face. Lavendor assures him that his old face is wanted by the police for murder and that he should find his new face more than satisfactory. Once the bandages are removed, Antille examines his new face in the mirror and smiles in satisfaction. Lavendor provides him with paper identifying him as Charles Copley Steven, a dealer in lithographs. Lavendor’s assistant Golo comes in and the mortician explains that Golo chose the victim, Toby Murphy, an obscure carousing Irishman.

At the saloon, Jim and Artie arrive and the waitress, Rose Murphy, directs them to a private table. Artie addresses her by name and explains that they are there concerning the missing persons report she filed on her father, Toby. Rose draws the curtain and asks what they know, and confirms that Toby has been missing for four days. She doesn’t have any pictures of her father but confirms that he was missing his little toe. They leave, unaware at Golo has been listening from the next booth.

Jim and Artie go to the mausoleum where Antille is interred. They discover that the door is open. As they go inside to examine the coffin, Lavendor closes the door behind them. The agents confirm that the corpse is missing a little toe, confirming that it’s Toby Murphy, and discover that the door is jammed. Gas starts pouring in through a gargoyle head. The agents quickly use a wad of plastic explosives to blow out the lock and escape into the fresh air.

Back at the bar, Jim gives Rose the news about her father and promises to find out what is going on. He asks for her help and warns that there may be some danger, and assures Rose that they’ll arrange for her father’s headstone once they clear up the case.

A disguised Artie goes to Lavendor to arrange a funeral and asks for a tour of the mortuary. Lavendor shows him the workshop and Artie finally explains that he’s Thomas Link, wanted for murder. He wants to employ Lavendor’s services and refuses to identify who sent him. Lavendor insists that he keeps files on all of his old alterations and summons Golo. Artie bluffs it out and claims that his friend had a nickname, and Lavendor assumes it’s a crook named Jip the Dodger.

As Leda leaves the hotel, Jim meets her and asks what she has planned. He warns her that she may be in danger but Leda says that Antille is dead and she has nothing to worry about. Jim tells her that they were both deceived and hopes to prove there was a conspiracy to fake Antille’s death. He offers her a guard but she refuses and Jim gracefully accepts. As he leaves, Antille enters the room and tells her that Jim will force the assassin to dispose of him.

That night, Artie comes to see Lavendor and pays him his fee. Lavendor’s assistant Finley helps Artie disrobe while Lavendor asks him about the funeral arrangements. Once Artie is on the table, Lavendor, Golo, and Finley surround him and reveal that they know who he really is.

When Artie doesn’t report in, Jim and Rose check out the alley where Antille disappeared. He asks her to play a grieving widow and distract Lavendor when he sneaks in to look at his files. Jim notices the poster is missing the streak of blood that Artie left it on earlier and realizes how Antille escaped.

Rose enters the mortuary and plays the very loudly grieving widow. Jim comes in through the secret entrance and goes through Lavendor’s desk, and then enters the workshop. He knocks out Golo and smears formaldehyde on his chest, and then finds Artie locked up. Artie directs him to the chapel to find the files

When Rose stumbles over her cover story and gets her names mixed up, she quickly explains that her husband and brother died and then fakes a faint. Finley goes to get some smelling salts and finds Golo, and Lavendor tells him to search the place. Meanwhile, Jim hides behind the chapel podium and finds a secret compartment.

Lavendor quickly gets rid of Rose and finds Golo, and assumes that he’s been sampling the formaldehyde. He then brings Artie out and explains that he’ll be providing the body for another criminal. Finley brings in a coffin and Lavendor starts to strangle Artie. Jim leaps out of the coffin and attacks Lavendor and Finley, while Artie disposes of Golo.

The agents compare notes and Jim explains that Lavendor was blackmailing his customers they go to the chapel to get the files and find out where Antille has gone. Antille and Leda come in and hold the agents at gunpoint. They order them into workshop and the agents figure that Antille stayed ahead of them thanks to Leda. Lavendor tells Antille to shoot them, but Jim explains about Lavendor’s blackmail scheme. Antille kills Lavendor and tells the agents to burn the files using alcohol. As Jim pours the liquid onto the files, He throws it into Antille’s face. He quickly subdues the assassin while Artie secures Leda.

\Later, the agents go to the saloon to celebrate with Rose and inform her that she’s entitled to a share of the reward. Rose is satisfied with getting a headstone for her father. They both invite her out but Rose tells them that she has a prior engagement with a sheriff, who she thinks is a real lawman.