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Day of Reckoning

(1933 b 69')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Made under the banner of the NRA (National Recovery Act), Morris Lavine's novel was the basis for the plight of a young family's struggles after the husband is put in jail for using company money to pay bills.

Dorothy Day (Madge Evans) ignores the 2-month bill of the milkman Jerry (Stuart Erwin) as she instructs her maid Mamie (Una Merkel) on how to serve guests. John Day (Richard Dix) lets his wife Dorothy keep an expensive evening gown on his birthday and accepts embroidered slippers from Mamie. The Days' two little kids are brought in to see the cake; but John is arrested for a shortage in his accounts at work. He can't pay bail, and Dorothy asks friends for help. George Hollins (Conway Tearle) hires a lawyer for a double-cross that results in John Day getting sentenced to two years in jail.

As men take the Day's piano away, Hollins hires Dorothy. She is a very slow typist and is discouraged. She visits John in jail, and he asks her to visit weekly and write daily letters. Dorothy uses a nice car of Hollins, and he brings her home after another dinner. Mamie urges Dorothy to write John. In jail Slim is afraid his wife will leave him; he becomes hysterical and is sent to the hospital section. Jerry brings Dorothy flowers and helps her write a letter to John. Mamie plays with the kids where John can see them. Kate (Isabel Jewell) complains to Hollins about Dorothy being late and doing little work; but Hollins fires Kate. While Hollins is saying he loves Dorothy, Kate sneaks in and shoots Dorothy. Both Kate and Hollins are held by the police. John learns that Dorothy was killed and that Hollins was involved. Hollins is put in the same jail. John hits him and chokes him; but in the hospital Slim tells Hollins to keep quiet and threatens him. Afraid of losing the kids, Mamie gets Jerry to drive them to his mother's in the country. After not eating for four days John is put in the hospital. He finds Hollins on the sun roof, and they fight. While each is hanging on, Hollins tries to make John fall; but Slim makes Hollins fall ten stories to his death.

In the country Mamie and the kids welcome John and Jerry. Jerry is waiting for Mamie's answer after she sees John. She found John a cottage and a job. John cries in gratitude. Mamie cries in happiness too and says yes to Jerry.

This depression story explores hard times for a couple unable to adjust their lifestyle to more limited finances. The wealthy Hollins tries to take advantage of the situation, while the devotion of the maid Mamie is exemplary. Poetic justice has the adulterous couple die; the good Mamie and Jerry prosper, and the bumbling John survives.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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