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Smart Woman

Smart Woman(1948)

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In a Los Angeles court, a grand jury votes to have a special prosecutor appointed to indict District Attorney Bradley Wayne on charges of obstruction of justice. The grand jury has evidence that "J.J." Smith, the missing chief witness in its election fraud case against elected official Fred Johnson, is being held by Wayne and the gang of racketeers he controls. The racketeering boss, Frank McCoy, blackmails attorney Paula Rogers into defending Johnson, and she reluctantly goes to trial against a slick special prosecutor named Robert Larrimore. After being asked to sign a petition sponsored by the Good Government League to have Robert recalled as special prosecutor, Robert's assistant, Sam Corkle, goes to the League's headquarters and finds a letter addressed to "James Smith" at the Eureka Hotel. Although Dr. Harvey Jasper, who runs the League, warns Smith to flee the hotel, he is picked up by Robert and the police and is forced to testify. During Smith's testimony, Paula receives an order from McCoy to change Johnson's plea to guilty, and she loses the case. Following the trial, Robert and Paula begin dating and fall in love, despite the efforts of reporter Johnny Simmons to thwart their romance. Johnny is constantly coming over uninvited to Paula's mother's house, where Paula lives with her teenage son Rusty, to propose to her and eat dinner. Robert and Sam, meanwhile, try to locate Jasper in order to indict Wayne. McCoy orders Paula to spy on Robert, and while sailing on his yacht, Paula finds a note describing Jasper's whereabouts. Later, when McCoy demands the information, Paula lies to protect Robert, and McCoy tells her that Robert will never marry her because his ambition to be governor will not allow scandal. One night, after Robert takes Rusty sailing, Robert and the police find Jasper dead in the League office. Robert finally confronts Wayne in person and threatens to indict him. Wayne retaliates by trying to have Robert killed in a parking garage, but he is saved by a screaming witness. Robert later proposes to Paula, and she agrees to marry him. Wayne, meanwhile, has decided to blame McCoy for Jasper's murder, and one night, tries to pay him to take the blame and put his fingerprints on the murder weapon. In a struggle, the gun goes off, and Wayne is killed. McCoy manipulates Paula into defending him at his trial, and she breaks her engagement with Robert, who is the prosecuting attorney. At the trial, Mrs. Wayne, who overheard her husband threatening McCoy moments before he was shot, perjures herself on the witness stand. As Paula is about to lose her case, she decides to testify herself. In an appeal to Mrs. Wayne's motherhood, Paula explains that she, too, has hidden the unpleasant truth about her son's father in order to spare his feelings. She then confesses that McCoy has been blackmailing her with the knowledge that he is Rusty's father. Later, Robert obtains a signed statement from Mrs. Wayne admitting her husband's guilt and gives it to Paula so she can win her case. After Robert convinces Paula to marry him, Johnny enters to grab a snack.