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A small-town businesswoman takes on a railroad magnate in court.
Widow Jane Osgood, the proprietress of a lobster restaurant supply business in Cape Anne, Maine, finds her livelihood threatened when the E&P Railroad fails to deliver a shipment on time, causing the crustaceans to wither and die. Blaming the railroad for her misfortune, Jane asks her childhood friend, attorney George Denham, to sue the E&P, and George assures Jane that the railroad will be forced to reimburse her for her loss. In New York City, Harry Foster Malone, the ill-natured new owner of the E&P, is masticating on a lobster when word comes of Jane's lawsuit. Crawford Sloan, the railroad's attorney, advises Malone that the railroad is responsible for Jane's loss and suggests that it would be a publicity coup for the company personally to deliver a reimbursement check to her. Traveling to Cape Anne, Crawford, accompanied by E&P board member Selwyn Harris, presents Jane with a check for $700, the value of the lobsters. Jane, however, claims that her loss was far greater than that, because the railroad's untimely delivery dealt a blow to her business' reputation, thus threatening her survival. Just then George, dressed in a Cub Scout leader uniform, arrives at the house with Jane's young son Billy. Although George advises Jane to take the check, she refuses and later lectures George about his lack of gumption, pointing out that although George has opposed Aaron Caldwell, the corrupt leader of the town council for years, he has never been able to rally the votes to defeat him. Jane goes through with the suit, but when a friendly jury awards Jane $2,500 to cover her loss, Harris refuses to pay and tells Jane that his company intends to appeal the verdict. Furious, Jane decides to apply for a Writ of Execution against the railroad, and soon after, Sheriff Wilbur Peterson hands stationmaster Homer Bean a writ awarding Jane the train known as "Old 97" in lieu of the money owed her by the railroad. Matilda Runyon, the town's switchboard operator, and an aspiring reporter, sees the writ as her opportunity for a big scoop and notifies a New York newspaper, which sends reporter Larry Hall to cover the story of "David vs. Goliath." The media soon descend on Cape Anne, glorifying the idea of a poor widow taking on big business, and couching the dispute as "the eternal drama of the American ideal, the struggle for equality for all." As Larry, a charming bachelor, interviews Jane, he becomes enamored with his subject, arousing George's jealousy. In New York, meanwhile, Malone sees the headlines in praise of Jane, and fuming, demands that Jane pay him $250 a day to rent the tracks on which Old 97 sits. To raise the money to pay Sloan, Larry suggests that Jane accept the offers from several New York television stations to appear on their programs. George is outraged when Jane leaves Billy and her daughter Betty in his care and goes to New York with Larry. While watching the game show I've Got a Secret , Malone sees contestant Jane assert that "he is the meanest man on Earth." To retaliate, Malone phones the show and declares that not only is he canceling Jane's rent, but he is giving her the train to keep. Later that night, Larry proposes to Jane, who asks for some time to consider. When Jane returns home, George wrongly accuses her of having an affair with Larry. Later, at the town meeting, Caldwell announces that Malone has cancelled all railroad service to Cape Anne and blames Jane for the town's misfortune. After a tearful Jane apologizes and runs out of the room, Caldwell calls for the election of the First Selectman. George, newly invigorated, makes an impassioned speech about the town's callous treatment of Jane, then leaves. Afterward, the council elects George as their new First Selectman. Realizing that they can use Old 97 to deliver Jane's lobsters, George enlists his uncle Otis, a retired railroad engineer, to drive the engine. The rest of the town rallies around the effort, and begins delivering coal by the box and bagful to feed the engine. To thwart Jane, Malone, who legally must allow the Old 97 use of his tracks, routes the train in the wrong direction, causing his Board of Directors to quit in disgust. As the story of Jane's futile quest spreads, reporters besiege Malone's office, and Crawford warns him that he is undermining the railroad by attacking Jane. Aboard the train, Jane, aware that Larry will be waiting for her answer at Marshalton, their first stop, runs to the engine room where George is stoking the furnace. To goad George into proposing, Jane declares that she has decided to marry Larry. The ruse works, and George and Jane are formally engaged. Because of their circuitous routing, they soon run out of coal, stranding the train on the trucks and thus blocking an oncoming passenger train. Following Crawford's advice, Malone flies to meet the train and concedes defeat. To insure their timely arrival, Jane insists that Malone accompany them onboard, and Malone, seeing that George is exhausted, takes over stoking the engine. When the train pulls into Marshalton, Larry stands gaping from the platform as George publicly kisses Jane. Some time later in Cape Anne, a parade celebrating George's swearing-in ceremony is upstaged by the arrival of a new fire engine donated to the town by Malone. When the crowd spots a beaming Malone watching from behind a building, they run to thank him, but he jumps into his waiting limousine and speeds off.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||world premiere in Boston: 12 May 1959|
|Release Date:||1959||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Columbia Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Arwin Productions, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||98, 100 or 128||Country:||United States|
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User Ratings & Review
Where Is Maine?
Pat Brinkman 2013-12-31
Oook, I loved this movie, however, as a true Downeaster from Maine I looked for Maine and its lobsters. I knew I wasn't looking at Maine in the scenes...
Living My Childhood
I love this movie! Growing up in the area it was filmed I remember it just like it looks, and you can STILL see quite a bit of the places today. Like to...
Classic Doris Day comedy
Kelly Wuest 2012-04-21
This movie is a good old fashioned feel good comedy!