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Rusty Saves a Life

Rusty Saves a Life(1949)

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During his weekly dinner with five neighborhood boys-- Danny Mitchell, the Warden twins, known as Nip and Tuck, Gerald Hibble and Albert "Squeaky" Foley--at his home in Lawtonville, Illinois, Counsellor Frank Gibson announces that because his only relative, his nephew Fred, does not like him, he is going to leave the boys his house and his pottery works to use as a meeting place in their work for international understanding. That night, while Gibson writes out his new will, Danny devises a plan to invite boys from everywhere to meet and get acquainted. By the next morning, however, Gibson has died, and when Danny's father Hugh who was Gibson's lawyer, reads the will, he discovers that Gibson has left everything to Fred on condition that he live in Lawtonville for one year and continue the Sunday night dinner with the boys. To everyone's dismay, Fred agrees to the arrangement. That night, the disappointed boys meet to discuss ways to force Fred to leave town before the year ends, as Fred dislikes the boys as much as they dislike him. Fred tells them that they can no longer use their clubhouse, which is on his land, and decides to build a wall around his property. Then at the Sunday night dinner, he refuses to let Rusty, Danny's beloved dog, participate. Fred's unfriendly treatment of the boys turns the townspeople, including attractive Lyddy Hazard, in whom he is romantically interested, against him. Meanwhile, the boys harass Fred by leaving threatening notes on his car and breaking windows in the house. When Rusty gets caught in one of the traps that Fred has placed on his property, Danny accidentally starts a fire while trying to free his dog. After Fred demands $500 for damages from the Mitchells, Danny's father scolds him for his behavior and reminds him that rights go along with responsibility. After Fred explains to Lyddy that his uncle disapproved of his mother and continually tried to take him away from her, he tells her that he plans to sell the pottery works and leave town. Later, Fred accidentally drives into the river, and Rusty, who is walking nearby with a chastened Danny and Squeaky, saves him from drowning. In the meantime, Lyddy chides the townspeople for their unfriendliness and intolerance. While Fred recuperates, the townspeople try to make up for their earlier behavior, and Fred apologizes in his turn. When Gibson's handwritten will is found, Danny burns it, but Fred agrees to sign the land over to the boys anyway and announces that he will stay in Lawtonville and marry Lyddy.