Laurence Planter is a handsome ex-sailor, unable to resist the lure of a lovely woman but dreaming of a better life. When his boss's business partner Grisby offers thousands of dollars to help fake his own death, Laurence senses that trouble's afoot – and when Grisby turns up dead one night, that trouble seems to be in the form of his boss's beautiful wife Elsa.
Heading for Death Row for a murder he didn't commit, all Laurence can do is try to piece together the strange events of that hot summer night. Yet with friends indistinguishable from enemies, who can he trust?
If I Die Before I Wake was filmed as The Lady from Shanghai with Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.