A Night at the Movies
Season 3
Number 19
Writer Danny Cannon,
Carol Mendelsohn,
Anthony E. Zuiker
Director Deran Sarafian
Original Airdate April 10, 2003
Previous Episode: Precious Metal
Next Episode: Last Laugh

A Night at the Movies is the nineteenth episode in Season Three of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When a man is found stabbed in the neck at the back of a movie theater while the movie is still playing, Catherine and Grissom follow the evidence to a case of life imitating art. Meanwhile, Nick, Sara and Warrick have to piece together what happened in a bizarre case of a teenage boy shot in the chest in an empty warehouse with 109 bullet holes in every direction over the walls.


Victim: Gus Sugarman (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Jim Brass

A movie theater usher approaches a male patron after the show has begun because the patron’s cell phone is ringing. When the man is unresponsive, the usher taps him on the shoulder. The man slumps forward and bleeds from his mouth into his popcorn.

Catherine and Grissom meet Brass at the theater. Brass tells them that the victim is Gus Sugarman and that he owns a local dental practice. Commenting that Thursday is “Film Noir Night” at the Art House Movie Theater, Brass does his impression of a film noir cop, describing the crime scene, noting that no one heard anything—no scream, nothing to indicate a struggle. The other patrons, however, did hear his cell phone ring three times. Grissom notes that with the loud music, four exits, and everyone focused on the screen, it's easy to do the deed and slip out.

Doc Robbins is called to the scene to examine the body. He spots the puncture wound in the back of the victim’s neck and notes the bruise pattern around his mouth. The bruising around the mouth seems to suggest that someone approached the victim from behind and put their hand over his mouth to silence him as the murder occurred. Grissom sees a small red line on the victim's neck, leading the team to speculate that a chain or some other similar item may have been torn off the victim. Catherine drops her flashlight; when she finds it on the floor a few rows away, she also finds a bloody screwdriver. Brass re-enters the theater, having been out in the lobby talking to the rest of the theatergoers. He indicates that he has located a witness.

Grissom accompanies Brass to speak to his “witness,” a twenty-something movie buff. When asked what he saw, the young man says that he noticed a woman leaving during the gunfight in the movie. He thought it was odd, since it's the best part of the film. When asked to describe her, he says that she was a tall redhead who was “not old." The woman isn't in the lobby with everyone else. Nobody else saw this woman enter the lobby, either; the manager wasn't on duty and the usher left before the police arrived because he had been smoking marijuana and didn't want to get busted.

Catherine takes the screwdriver she found at the movie theater back to the lab for processing. Noting that it's covered in blood, soda, popcorn and carpet fibers, Greg and fellow lab tech Jacqui Franco begin to work on the screwdriver—Greg works on the blood trying to match it to the victim’s, while Jacqui uses ninhydrin (a chemical which reacts with amino acids) to try and lift any prints that may be on the weapon.

Grissom begins to review Gus' cell phone records; conveniently, the phone company has unblocked all previously noted private numbers for the purposes of the investigation. He notes that at 10:38, two minutes before the start of the movie, Gus made a 26-second call. Because the length of the call is so short, Grissom guesses that Gus got no answer on the other end. Interestingly, though, the person he tried to reach called him back three times in a row at 11:26, 11:27 and 11:28.

Catherine and Grissom arrive at the house of the Audrey Hilden, the woman who called Gus. She matches the description of the woman seen leaving the theater. When asked about the calls, she tells them that Gus was her dentist. He had asked her out on a date to the movies, but she stood him up. She was screening her calls when Gus called her, but after an attack of conscience, she called him back hoping to get his voicemail and leave an apology message. During the questioning, Audrey receives another phone call; before the answering machine can pick up, she intentionally lowers the volume on it. Grissom notices a schedule for the Art House Movie Theater posted on a bulletin board in the house. She tells him that she frequently sees movies there. Despite the fact that the theater recently screened an Alfred Hitchcock retrospective, she tells Grissom that she prefers French new wave films.

Catherine, Grissom, and Brass regroup to discuss their case. The blood on the screwdriver is their victim’s and the ninhydrin process managed to reveal a palm print. Unfortunately, the print is smooth, indicating the killer was wearing gloves. Most interestingly, however, Brass has uncovered that Audrey Hilden had filed a lawsuit against Gus Sugarman, claiming he assaulted her while she was under anesthesia during a visit. Gus counter-sued and Audrey dropped her case. Catherine is immediately suspicious—after all, why would someone agree to go out on a date with someone they had accused of molesting them? Brass also spoke to the usher again; the usher remembers a red-headed woman making a phone call during the movie.

Back at the movie theater, Catherine, Grissom, and Brass question the usher. He says that while he was taking a small break to get a drink, he noticed a tall redhead leave the theater and make a phone call on the payphone in the lobby. Brass leaves to check it out. When asked, the usher also confirms that the mystery woman was wearing gloves, which he found odd since it was over 70 degrees inside the theater. He also noticed that she threw something in the trash and then left the building completely. However, the trash is empty. Catherine and Grissom catch up with the cleaning crew in the actual theater. There, they notice one of the workers wearing leather gloves, which she apparently had picked from the trash. Believing they belong to the killer, Grissom offers the worker cash in exchange for the gloves, which she surrenders.

The gloves recovered match both the palm prints on the screwdriver and the payphone in the theater lobby. Unfortunately, because the cleaning woman was using ammonia, any evidence on the interior lining of the gloves, such as epithelial skin cells, was destroyed the moment she put the gloves on.

Brass discusses the case with Catherine and Grissom. He has pulled the phone records from the payphone and found out that someone called Audrey’s house from that phone at 11:25. Remembering that Audrey called Gus from her home at 11:26, they realize she can’t be the killer. They get the feeling that someone else may be involved. Brass hypothesizes that maybe the call from the lobby came from a hitman (or hit-woman), but Catherine says Audrey couldn't afford a powerful attorney. If that's the case, how could she afford a hitman? They suspect that Audrey may still have something to do with the case. Brass suggests that they go visit Audrey to question her further.

After knocking on her front door, the team hears the buzzing of a phone off the hook inside Audrey’s house. They go around back and see that a sliding glass door has been left unlocked. Cautiously, they enter the house and find Audrey hanging from an upper railing, an extension cord wrapped around her neck and a gold chain lying by her feet. Grissom recalls something similar to this chain being yanked off of Gus' neck in the theater. Brass calls the death in while Grissom examines the body and Catherine heads upstairs to look at the area around the railing.

Upon closer inspection of the body, Grissom sees postmortem bruising around Audrey’s neck. He also sees another set of marks around her neck under the extension cord. This leads him to believe that she was strangled first and then hung. In addition, he notes there are carpet fibers stuck to the heels of her shoes, which indicates that she was dragged across the floor. Upstairs, Catherine sees no signs of a break-in or struggle, indicating that Audrey may have been killed by someone she knew.

As he makes his way through the living room, Grissom observes that the movie schedule is missing from Audrey’s bulletin board. He recalls that earlier, there was a handwritten note on it that Audrey clearly didn't want him to see. Assuming that the schedule was thrown away, Catherine checks the living room trash, while Grissom heads into the bathroom. The trash can doesn’t reveal anything, but noting that the floor is wet, Grissom plunges the toilet and sees the bright pink schedule stuck in the bowl. He retrieves it for examination back at the lab.

Catherine and Grissom dry out the movie schedule found at Audrey’s house and examine it using digital software, designed to help investigators see smeared ink. They notice something written above the advertisement for the movie Strangers on a Train. Grissom gives a summary of the movie—two perfect strangers arrange to commit murders for each other. Since neither person would have a motive for their killing, it would appear to be the perfect murder. Grissom wonders if this is life imitating art. The software is able to make the note legible; it reveals the odd phrase “Sphere E4-117." Catherine surmises that “Sphere” may indicate the Sphere Hotel. E4-117 isn’t a room number, and after suggesting locker number, she and Grissom believe it may be a parking spot.

Assigned E4-117's parking spot is club manager Anthony Haines. Shown a picture of Audrey Hilden, he doesn’t recognize her. While Catherine questions him further, Grissom looks around the group dressing room of dancers at the Sphere Showroom. Spotting another bright pink Art House schedule, he asks Anthony which dancer uses the dressing area he’s pointing to. Anthony indicates Kelly Goodson uses that particular table. Looking closer, Grissom notices a business card from the law firm Langley & Langley tucked into the side of her mirror.

Kelly enters the dressing room while Grissom is looking at her open locker. She pulls of a red wig to reveal long blonde hair. Curious, Grissom asks her about the wig and if she ever wears it out. Complaining that she never gets to go out with her work schedule, she begins to rub her legs with a series of muscle creams. Amazed at the concoction she has created, Grissom takes note of the three different ointments Kelly is using. She also admits to him that she has been to the movie theater a few times, but has never seen Strangers on a Train.

Grissom sits in his office, surrounded by tubes of three different muscle ointments. Catherine walks in and they discuss Kelly Goodson. As Grissom is examining the gloves, extension cord and gold chain for traces of the creams, Catherine tells him that, like Audrey Hilden, Kelly Goodson had recently filed suit against someone for sexual harassment. That someone was, unsurprisingly, Anthony Haines. Once she found this out, Catherine dug deeper and discovered Audrey and Kelly had used the same law firm, Langley & Langley, in each of their cases. The two women also had the same taste in movies. Believing that Audrey and Kelly had met at their lawyer’s office, Catherine and Grissom speculate that the two women discussed their respective problems and decided to help each other get rid of the causes—Gus Sugarman and Anthony Haines.

Grissom believes that the same cream concoction that Kelly uses could be on the gold chain and the extension cord used to hang Audrey. Catherine tells him that he won't get transfer from the gloves, but Grissom notes that there could be trace on the outside, since one uses a bare hand to put on the first glove. Both he and Greg start swabbing the key pieces of evidence.

Catherine and Grissom meet with Kelly to tell her their theory in the deaths of both Gus Sugarman and Audrey Hilden. Like in the movie Strangers on Train, they believe Kelly and Audrey made a deal to kill the men that had sexually harassed the other. Since each of the men would be a stranger to his killer, it would be difficult to trace Kelly and Audrey to the murders—they would be committing the perfect crime as is theorized in the movie. Audrey had never really intended to go through with the murders, but Kelly killed Gus and called Audrey to let her know it was done, even yanking the gold chain off of Gus's neck as proof. Kelly also provided Audrey with the perfect place to kill Anthony—in the dark, secluded parking space at The Sphere. When Audrey refused to kill Anthony, an angry Kelly stalked her before finally killing her and making it look like a suicide. She then planted Gus' gold chain near the body and tried to get rid of the only thing linking the two women together—the movie schedule. Confronted with their theory, Kelly denies any wrongdoing. Grissom tells her that traces of her muscle cream have been found on the gloves, extension cord and gold chain. It appears that Kelly is caught after all.

Victim: Timmy McCallum (deceased)

On the case: Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Ray O'Riley

Nick, Sara and Warrick meet Detective O’Riley out at a warehouse, the scene of a gunshot fatality. O’Riley remarks that he hopes the CSIs brought a lot of extra supplies and have a lot of time—the crime scene looks like a war zone. The CSIs are shocked as the door to the warehouse is opened and they can see the sun streaming through what looks like hundreds of bullet holes in the walls. A young male is lying face down on the warehouse floor; his driver’s permit identifies him as 15 ½-year-old Timmy McCallum. He's surrounded by bullet casings, but amazingly only has one bullet wound, which is in his chest.

Nick, Sara and Warrick split up their crime scene: Sara takes outside, Nick takes the walls, and Warrick takes the floor. Sara notes and photographs tire tracks and footprints outside of the warehouse. Rounding the back, she also sees a makeshift ladder leading to the roof, which she climbs. On the roof, Sara finds a piece of bamboo, which she tags as evidence and brings down with her. In the interim, Nick is inserting small rods into the many bullet holes in the warehouse walls—when done, he notes there are 109 holes. Warrick bags beer bottles found at the scene and numbers each one of the bullet casings found on the floor. He also finds clear shards of glass next to some tiny pieces of black plastic. The CSIs note that there are numerous bullet holes 15 to 20 feet off the ground at a horizontal trajectory, leading them to question what exactly occurred here.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins shows Warrick that Timmy's body is peppered with small, round bruises of unknown origin. There's also large scabbing on his elbows and knees, which Doc Robbins chalks up to “boys will be boys." A lack of gunshot residue on his body or clothing indicates that he was shot from a distance. Measuring the degree of the path the bullet took in his body, Warrick figures out that Timmy was shot from above. However, the angle of the roof and the angle Timmy was shot from don't line up.

Back at the lab, Sara is working on the most puzzling piece of evidence: the bamboo. Warrick interrupts her work to let her know what he has learned from the pictures she took outside of the warehouse. The tire tread didn't come back with any distinctive result; however, the footprints did. By measuring the prints and examining the treads, Warrick has determined that five people went into the warehouse and four ran out. Sara admits that she has been unable to find any fingerprints on the bamboo, and Warrick proposes they check it for gunshot residue. When that test comes up negative, Warrick suggests Sara abandon the bamboo. Not one to give up, Sara takes it to trace, hoping that will reveal some hidden forensic detail.

DNA from the beer bottles found at the scene of the shooting indicates there were five different people present, two of whom are related. Greg tells Nick that one of the bottles has Timmy’s DNA but, more importantly, another one has the DNA of a relative of Timmy’s, most likely a brother. Interesting news, since Warrick is about to step into an interview room with Timmy’s mother and his older brother, Kevin.

Mrs. McCallum admits to Warrick that she knows Timmy drives the family minivan without her, despite the fact that his learner’s permit requires an adult to be in the car. She says that, due to her work schedule, Kevin often drives with Timmy. Kevin denies having any knowledge of the warehouse, even when confronted with the DNA evidence. He says that he bought Timmy and his friends the beer, and had taken a couple swigs out of one of the bottles. Believing more can be learned from Kevin, Warrick asks Mrs. McCallum’s permission for Kevin to stay for more questioning and to examine the vehicle.

In trace, the bamboo is looked at in detail and is found to have spiral gouges on it from one end to the other. The glass from the scene has also been examined. It's coated with crystallized calcium chloride, which is common in glass used in high-end camera lenses. It's possible someone caught the murder on tape.

Warrick begins his review of the McCallum’s minivan. The tires match the photo of the treads taken at the scene, but this isn’t surprising; after all, Timmy often drove the van. Warrick finds a ripped up beer case in the back of the van, with a price tag on it from Jenko’s Liquor. He also finds what appears to be blood on the inside of the driver's side door. Spraying it with luminol, he discovers that it tests positive for blood.

Meanwhile, in the interrogation room, Det. O’Riley questions Kevin while Nick watches the interrogation from outside the room. After he and Warrick swap notes—he tells Warrick that all the bullets fired came from the same 9mm semi-automatic weapon and Warrick tells him about the beer—they decide to talk to Kevin themselves. Noticing blood coming through his shirt on his arm, they ask Kevin to show them the wound. Kevin reluctantly complies and shows them what appears to be a wound caused by a grazing bullet, which he tries saying is from a skateboarding accident. Additionally, they ask him to remove his shirt and when he does, they see small, round bruises, matching the ones found on his brother’s body. After that, Kevin clams up and refuses to talk anymore.

Sara inputs the trajectories of all 109 bullets found at the warehouse into a computer simulation. She and Warrick review the simulation and discover that all the bullets seem to be coming from one long pole from near the center of the warehouse. Sara theorizes that this could be where the bamboo stick fits in. Adding up all their clues, Sara and Warrick summarize the case. Still unable to figure out what has happened, they realize they're at the end of the road, forensically speaking.

Having pulled the surveillance tapes from Jenko’s Liquor, Nick has black-and-white stills made of the time that Kevin was in Jenko’s buying the beer. Looking closely at the stills, they discover that three other young men accompanied Kevin and Timmy into the store. Because of the busted camera lens found at the scene, the CSIs know someone caught everything on tape. Nick suggests interviewing the other kids to see which one could've been filming the incident.

The other kids who accompanied Kevin and Timmy into Jenko’s have been identified and called in for questioning. Each of them has bruises identical to Timmy’s and are reluctant to talk. One of the boys, however, admits that he got a black eye after Timmy shot out the lens in his video camera with a gun they “found." From that point, the CSIs simply tell the boys they can talk or they'll just find out what they want from the videotape.

Faced with this, Kevin begins to tell Det. O'Riley what happened. In their boredom, each of the boys came up with stupid Jackass-like stunts to perform on camera. The first one was “Speedway Surfing," where each of the boys stood atop a speeding vehicle and surfed along the highway. Next was “Human 150 yard Marker," where they all took turns standing in front of someone, who shot golf balls at them, which is how they ended up with the round bruises. Timmy’s choice was “Bamboo Russian Roulette." At the warehouse, they all took turns going up to the roof, inserting the bamboo stick into the warehouse skylight and sliding the semi-automatic down the bamboo. The notches on the bamboo caused the gun to randomly shoot into the warehouse. Timmy was killed during his brother’s turn when one of the stray bullets hit him the chest. Kevin explains that they left the body and didn't call an ambulance because they didn't want to get in trouble. He adds that none of them had a death wish. "You sure about that?" Det. O' Riley asks him.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Charlie Hofheimer as Kevin McCallum
  • Cyia Batten as Kelly Goodson
  • Megan Ward as Audrey Hilden
  • Finn Carter as Maude McCallum
  • Peter Dobson as Anthony Haines
  • Kevin Christy as Erik Barry
  • Todd Giebenhain as Usher
  • Knate Gwaltney as J.J.
  • Michael Jon Hennessy as ND CSI Tech
  • Eric Marquette as Earl
  • Mathew Scollon as Zachary (credited as Mat Scollon)
  • Erik Smith as Timmy McCallum
  • Xhercis Mendez as Woman Cleaner (credited as Xhercis)
  • Scot Belsky as Dr. Gus Sugarman (uncredited)


  • F.E.A.R by Ian Brown


  • This episode opens and closes in a movie theater. At the beginning of the episode, one of the couples seen from behind is Catherine and Grissom. They don't go to see a movie until the end of the episode.
  • During the flashbacks of the shooting in the warehouse, we see the video camera lens being shot out before Timmy McCallum is shot. The monitor in the lab showing the videotape made at the scene shows the boy lying on the ground when the camera has already been destroyed.


  • The murder plot for this episode is patterned after Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. One of the planned victims in the episode is named Anthony Haines, a reference to the two 'strangers' of the film, Guy Haines and Bruno Anthony.
  • The accidental death of Timmy McCallum was inspired by the MTV series Jackass, in which thrill-seekers attempt stunts.[1] 
  • The shot of the empty warehouse with 109 bullet holes at the 7 minute, 32 second mark will be used in the opening credits of Season Four.


  1. Flaherty, M. & Marrinan, C. (2004). CSI: Crime scene investigation companion. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 3
Revenge is Best Served ColdThe Accused is EntitledLet the Seller BewareA Little MurderAbra-CadaverThe Execution of Catherine WillowsFight NightSnuffBlood LustHigh and LowRecipe for MurderGot Murder?Random Acts of ViolenceOne Hit WonderLady Heather's BoxLucky StrikeCrash & BurnPrecious MetalA Night at the MoviesLast LaughForeverPlay with FireInside the Box