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The Working Man

(1933 b 78')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Based on a novel by Edgar Franklin, a businessman helps the children of his late rival compete with his own shoe business.

John Reeves (George Arliss) learns the man who married his sweetheart, the owner of the Hartland Shoes competitor, has died. His nephew Benjamin Burnett (Hardie Albright) is running Reeves shoe production so efficiently he believes he doesn't need Reeves, who goes fishing in Maine. There Reeves meets Jenny (Bette Davis) and Tommy Hartland (Theodore Newton), who invite him to their home in New York after he is injured protecting Jenny. Reeves as John Walton visits their factory and then has a lawyer offer $750,000 for the firm. He tells Jenny she is like her late mother. Reeves tells his lawyer to raise his offer but learns Pettison is not willing to sell. Reeves manages to get Tommy and Jenny to make him one of their trustees and their guardian. After they celebrate at a party, Reeves pours their liquor down the sink and fires all but two servants. He tells them Pettison is no good and that their business is sinking fast. He gives Tommy $100 to drink and resigns; but Jenny tells Tommy that Walton is right. He explains the balance sheet and takes Tommy to the factory, while Jenny decides to get a job at the Reeves Shoe company.

Reeves as Walton asks Pettison (Gordon Westcott) why the firm is running down and suggests a meeting of the salesmen. Jenny is so incompetent that Benjamin is going to fire her; but when he meets her, he makes her his filing clerk. The salesmen complain to Tommy about the factory. Pettison announces a cut in wages; but Walton inspires them to fight Reeves shoes. Pettison tells Walton they are broke and must sell for $500,000 to brokers who will hire him as manager. Walton fires Pettison for refusing higher offers and ruining the company. Hartland hires more workers and improves with new advertising. Benjamin is worried and suspects a spy. Jenny gets defensive, but he embraces her. Pettison arrives, sees Jenny, and after Benjamin refuses to hire him for ethical reasons, he accuses Jenny of spying. Benjamin visits Tommy Hartland and is sent to Walton. Jenny returns, telling Walton she loves Benjamin. When Benjamin sees Jenny, he is angry she spied. Tommy tells Benjamin that it was Walton who beat him. When Walton is identified as Reeves, Jenny and Tommy thank him, and he suggests Reeves and Hartland merge.

The experienced Reeves teaches Tommy and Jenny responsibility, fulfilling part of what he missed by not marrying their mother. The unethical scheme of Pettison to make money by ruining and then saving the company is foiled.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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