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Joe Keller, a successful businessman, lives comfortably with his wife, Kate, and son, Chris, in a suburban American neighborhood. They have only one sadness in their lives – the loss of their other son, Larry, who went missing in World War II. After three years, Kate still clings to the hope that her son is alive. Chris would like her to give up that hope because he wants to marry Ann, an old neighbor and Larry's former fiancée.
Ann arrives. Kate, sensing the reason for her visit, gets a little touchy. We learn that Ann's father is in prison for a crime he committed while working in Joe's factory. Faced with a batch of defective machine parts, he patched them and sent them out, causing the death of 21 pilots during the war. Turns out that Joe was also accused of this crime and convicted, but he was exonerated (set free) during the appeal. Steve went to prison; Joe returned home and made his business bigger and better.
Soon after Ann's arrival, her brother George follows, straight from visiting his father in prison. He knows what Chris has in mind and is totally against him marrying Ann. Joe and Kate do their best to charm George into submission, but finally it's Ann who sends him away. She wants to marry Chris no matter what.
The marriage of Chris and Ann is becoming a reality – and Kate can't handle it, because it means Larry is truly dead. And if Larry is dead, she tells Chris, it's because his own father killed him, since Larry was also a pilot. Chris finally confronts his father's guilt in shipping those defective parts.
But Chris won't do anything about it. He won't even ask his father to go to prison. Ann, who turned her back on her own father for the same reason, insists that Chris take a hard line. Joe Keller goes inside to get his things. A gunshot is heard. He's killed himself.