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Rich Man, Poor Girl

(1938 b 72')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a play by Edith Ellis, a millionaire struggles to understand the lower middle-class family of his fiancée.

Secretary Joan Thayer (Ruth Hussey) tells her boss Bill Harrison (Robert Young) that she is going on vacation. Shoe salesman Henry Thayer (Lew Ayres) loses a woman's shoe and is fired. Joan's family meets her at the train, but she is not going away. Bill asks Joan to be his wife, and she tells her family. Bill is rich, and her sister Helen Thayer (Lana Turner) cheers. Bill arrives, and Pa Thayer (Guy Kibbee) gives him a dry cigar. Cousin Henry Thayer asks Bill how it feels to be rich. Tom Grogan (Gordon Jones) comes in and wrestles with Frank Thayer (Don Castle). Bill tells Joan he wants to get her out of there and help her family; but Joan wants to wait and takes time off work. Bill asks Ma Thayer (Sarah Padden) about Joan's delay, and Ma says her family is contrary. Henry can't find a job. Bill asks to stay there a few days. Joan asks Bill to leave; but he won't without her. Bill sleeps on the couch, and Joan brings him ice water and a fly swatter.

A note from Bill invites the family on his yacht. On his small boat Bill offers them a flat by the water in his building. Sally Harrison (Rita Johnson) finds Bill sleeping in his office. He says he is getting married and wants to help the Thayers. Henry gets a job offer in the mail going to Brazil. Bill throws a party for Henry, who learns that the man who hired him knows Bill. Henry refuses to take the job and leaves the party. Helen dances with Bill. Tom waits for Bill; but his punches miss, and Bill knocks Tom down. Henry tells Bill how the middle class suffers. Bill kisses Joan at work and asks for his property files. After Bill is gone for a night, Joan misses him. Bill's sister Sally tells the Thayers that Bill is selling his property to endow a hospital and help the middle class. Helen blames Henry. Joan goes with Sally, who is challenging Bill legally. Helen cries over Bill. Frank and Pa come home and say they were fired. Joan greets Bill warmly, and he says he wants to benefit humanity. Sally tells the Thayers to come with her. Bill shows them their new home. Bill and Joan plan to wed, and all agree to accept Bill's gifts.

This realistic comedy explores the economic challenges of a family as contrasted to a man who inherited wealth. Henry's frustration and ideas stimulate the willing Bill to consider ways he could help people.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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