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Gaily, Gaily

Gaily, Gaily(1969)

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Remind Me

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The Galena, Illinois, Independence Day celebration in 1910 seems to young Ben Harvey an ideal time to seek out his own destiny, and with his meager savings, he sets out by train for Chicago, where he is soon pickpocketed and faints from hunger. He is rescued by Queen Lil, handsome proprietress of the Midwest's most elegant and finely furnished brothel, who takes to his innocence and installs him on the top floor of her house. Totally ignorant of the nature of his surroundings, he awakes the following morning to find Adeline, who he believes is a charming and innocent young lady, offering him a new suit of clothes. Queen Lil continues her patronage by getting Ben a job on the Chicago Journal , and there his resourcefulness wins over gruff but lovable Francis X. Sullivan, an admirer of the celebrated madam. Sullivan takes Ben on a drinking tour of the city's tenderloin, opening the young lad's innocent eyes to the "political realities" of life in the Windy City. Meanwhile, "reform" leader Axel P. Johanson is trying to obtain the "Big-Mitt-Ledger," a record of civic corruption compiled by local boss "Honest" Tim Grogan. During a party for Grogan at Lil's, Ben, by now realizing where he is staying, determines to devote his life to reform and inspires Adeline to similarly change her ways. She does, steals the ledger herself, and joins the Salvation Army mission. As soon as the ledger is found to be missing, Sullivan, Lil, Grogan, and Johanson are all after Ben, but it is Johanson who finds him and has his luscious ward, Lilah, seduce him in order to obtain the ledger. Ben then finds Adeline but mistakes a Salvation Army hymnal for the ledger. Pursued by Grogan and Sullivan, Ben falls from a drawbridge and drowns. But Dr. Tyner, a quack who has been experimenting with adrenalin, manages to revive Ben (who covertly attends his own funeral and witnesses his grandmother hand what she believes is the family Bible to the eulogizing preacher). The august gentleman opens the book and solemnly reads: "... And Johanson greased Judge Rafferty's palm with eight G's. ..." A mad grab ensues for what all recognize to be Grogan's ledger, which is finally entrusted to Queen Lil for safekeeping. The next morning Ben and Adeline are upstairs at Lil's as Sullivan reads from the Chicago Journal headline--"How I Returned From the Dead," by Ben Harvey, assisted by Francis X. Sullivan. (In an alternate ending, Sullivan instead retains the ledger and writes his own story, an exposé of "Corruption in High Places.")