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Woman of the Year

Woman of the Year(1942)

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As New York Chronicle sports columnist Sam Craig listens to the radio quiz program Information, Please , he is disgusted to hear nationally-known political columnist and Chronicle colleague Tess Harding miss a question about baseball and suggest that the sport be abolished for the duration of the war. Sam then writes a column lambasting her, and when Tess retaliates in kind, their editor, Clayton, orders them to meet in his office and stop their intramural squabbling. Sam is immediately impressed when he catches the attractive Tess adjusting her stockings, and she is equally attracted to him. Sam invites her to a Yankees game, and by the ninth inning, novice Tess has caught onto baseball and has made friends with some of the unruly fans, thus impressing Sam even more. Tess invites Sam over to her apartment that night, but he is chagrined to find out that she is having a party with dozens of her international friends. Despite constant interruptions due to Tess's busy life and the disdain of Tess's male secretary, Gerald Howe, Sam and Tess fall in love and decide to marry. Sam wants a traditional wedding with his mother present, but to accomodate Tess's hectic schedule, she and Gerald determine that the wedding must take place almost immediately and be held in South Carolina. Tess's diplomat father, William J. Harding, and her aunt, feminist Ellen Whitcomb, are only able to stay ten minutes and Tess is called away for an important call just after the wedding, leaving Sam a bit bewildered. The wedding night is equally frenetic; just as they are about to go to bed, missing Yugoslavian political refugee Dr. Lubbeck shows up and summons a group of his fellow countrymen. In retaliation, Sam calls his buddies over for a party and the apartment is in chaos until Flo Peters, the wife of Sam's bartender friend "Pinkie" learns that it is their wedding night and spreads the word to the others. Several months later, Sam and Tess are still very much in love, but are frequently separated due to Tess's political life and Sam's coverage of sporting events. One night, after Sam, who has been bristling over Tess's neglect, arrives home from a business trip, Tess is very solicitous, thus arousing Sam's suspicions. When she suggests that they have a child, he is ecstatic, thinking that she is pregnant, but instead she reveals that she has adopted a young Greek war refugee named Chris because she is chairwoman of a refugee committee. Though Sam likes the boy, he is angry and criticizes her for not giving even "ten percent" of her heart to matters at home. Their argument is interrupted by the news that she has just been named "America's Outstanding Woman of the Year." On the night of the banquet, Sam realizes that Chris is very lonesome for other children, and when Tess off-handedly tells Sam that the child will be alone during the banquet, they have a bitter argument and Sam stays home. After she leaves, Sam takes Chris to the Greek Children's home, where the boy is happily reunited with his friends. Following the banquet, Tess waits at the apartment with reporters who are anxious to photograph them together. She is stunned when she finds that his things are gone and deduces that he has taken Chris back to the home. She goes to retrieve him, but when she realizes that the boy does not want to be with her, she leaves. The next day, at the office, Tess gets a telegram from Ellen inviting her and Sam to Connecticut. She asks Sam to accompany her, but he refuses, and she realizes that he wants to end their "perfect marriage," which he says is neither. In Connecticut, Tess learns that Ellen and the long-widowed William are marrying, after years of silently loving each other. Tess makes an excuse about Sam's absence and is hurt when Ellen tells her how lucky she is to have Sam while she is still young because success not shared is empty. After the wedding, Tess drives back to New York to the apartment Sam has rented for himself. While he is sleeping, she decides to prove her mettle as a housewife and cook his breakfast, using recipes in a cookbook from Sam's mother. When he awakens, he silently watches as everything goes wrong for Tess, and when he finally speaks, a conciliatory Tess says that she wants to start over as a traditional wife. He is angered at her new "act," but she returns to the kitchen, determined to show him she can be domestic, until the coffeepot and waffle iron both overflow and she breaks down. Sam then embraces her and says he doesn't want to change her, he merely wants their marriage to come first and suggests that instead of being Tess Harding or Mrs. Sam Craig, she be Tess Harding Craig. She thinks that is a wonderful idea, and when Gerald arrives to take her to launch a battleship, Sam instead launches him, with Tess's approval.