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How to Frame a Figg

How to Frame a Figg(1971)

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When Old Charley Spaulding, who owns most of the city of Dalton and runs the city commission, grows concerned that the city's four bookkeepers might uncover the commissioners' graft and embezzlement, he determines to have the three best accountants replaced by a computer, retaining only their dumbest bookkeeper, Hollis Alexander Figg, to feed data to the machine. Hollis heads to his usual luncheonette with his best friend, the witless sanitation worker Prentiss Gates. After Pren accidentally splashes Hollis with ketchup, waitress Ema Letha Kusic lovingly wipes Hollis' shirt clean. Later, Pren and Hollis join their bowling team, which is set to play Ema Letha's team and wants desperately to avoid losing to a group of women. The men are pulling ahead when Hollis' fingers become stuck in his bowling ball, forcing his team to forfeit the match. He tries to leave in a huff but when the alley manager insists that he leave the ball behind, the team goes to absurd lengths to remove the ball from his fingers, to no avail. Ema Letha finally rescues Hollis and accompanies him to his apartment, but once there, he shyly admits that he does not want to remove the ball, as then she may leave. She promises to stay, and as Hollis bends to kiss her, the ball falls off his finger onto his toes. In his basement office the next morning, Hollis is shocked to discover the huge new computer, called a Large Capacity Enumerator Officiator, or LEO. When he presses a few buttons, paper forms spew everywhere just as Commissioners Kermit Sanderson and Robert Chisholm, Dalton's corrupt mayor, arrive with the press to present LEO as a gift to the city. After they leave, Pren visits with a basket of trash, and to demonstrate LEO's awesome prowess, Hollis feeds it a crumpled paper from the garbage. Reading the resulting figures out loud, Hollis states that a recent road project cost the city $500,000 but they charged $750,000. When Pren wonders where the other quarter of a million went, Hollis slowly comprehends the fraud behind the project, and brings his findings to Chisholm. Shocked and horrified at Hollis' acumen, Chisholm calls an emergency board meeting, at which Spaulding, between spontaneous naps, orders the mayor to promote Hollis and secretly set him up to take all the blame for the commission's corruption. Hollis is named a "consulting commissioner" and presented with a lavish office and a seductive secretary, Glorianna Hastings. That afternoon, Chisholm and Glorianna accompany Hollis to the luncheonette, where Glorianna's attentions to Hollis provoke Ema Letha to spill tomato juice on the secretary's fur coat. Annoyed, Hollis breaks up with Ema Letha. Over the next weeks, Glorianna keeps Hollis busy signing mystifying papers and purchase orders, and advises him to "play hard to get" with Ema Letha, despite his desire to apologize to her. One night, to detain Hollis from visiting Ema Letha, Glorianna invites him to her apartment, where she easily gets him drunk. Explaining her opulent apartment and multiple fur coats as gifts from doting uncles, Glorianna drapes herself over the half-conscious Hollis and takes compromising photographs. The next day, the commission discusses how to avoid an impending investigation by the state attorney general, John Carmoni. Spaulding decides to "activate the insurance" by accusing Hollis of all the illegal activities of the past months. In an impromptu hearing, Glorianna states that Hollis bought her the apartment and furs, and a safe-deposit box in Hollis' name is revealed to contain $100,000 in cash. The commissioners offer Hollis the chance to leave town, knowing that if he does, he will implicate himself further. At home, a crushed Hollis discusses the predicament with Pren, and is cheered by the appearance of Ema Letha, who has heard about the situation and come to support him. Finally comprehending that Hollis has been framed, the three wonder how to procure evidence of the hoax, but can think of nothing. When Pren's garbageman buddies come to pick him up, however, Hollis realizes that he can find confirmation of the commission's graft in their discarded paperwork, and asks Pren to collect the city leaders' trash. The three friends sort through the resulting tons of paperwork, uncovering dozens of incriminating memos. Knowing it will take days to compute the figures, Hollis determines to input the data into LEO, and while he and Pren sneak into city hall, Ema Letha travels to Carmoni's to inform him of the scam. Hollis manages to input the data but they must flee from a night watchman before the numbers can be tallied. Meanwhile, one of Carmoni's assistants informs Chisholm that Hollis is compiling evidence against them, and a commission meeting is called. Just after ordering Hollis' arrest, Spaulding dies. The burial is set for the next afternoon at city hall, and in order to gain access to the building, Hollis disguises himself as an elderly, female mourner. Meanwhile, in the boardroom the commissioners learn from Carmoni's assistant that the evidence is in the computer, and so dismantle the large memory bank, place it in Spaulding's coffin and hide Spaulding's body in a closet. Everyone heads to the cemetery, where the coffin is so heavy it crashes into the grave, and in the resulting confusion, Hollis and Pren rush back to city hall, only to find LEO torn apart. Searching the building, they discover Spaulding's body and, laboriously, deduce that his coffin contains LEO. That night, they sneak into the cemetery and dig until they uncover LEO. Because it is too heavy to lift, they spend hours stealing lengths of extension cords from all over town. After stretching them for miles, they are still three feet short, but Pren points out that all along an outlet has been sitting only a few feet from the grave. They hook up the computer, which quickly overloads and disgorges dozens of paper forms. Hollis is sure all is lost until they see that some of the forms contain the necessary data. After saying a prayer for LEO, they bring the evidence to Carmoni, who absolves Hollis. Months later, Hollis and Ema Letha celebrate their honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro. When Hollis notes that the hotel employees look curiously similar to the missing city commissioners, Ema Letha promises to clear his mind of the past events, while unknown to them, Chisholm and Sanderson are quietly removing Spaulding's body from the newlyweds' hotel closet.