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The Great Lie

The Great Lie(1941)

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Shortly after beautiful, imperious, concert pianist Sandra Kovak and aviator Pete Van Allen impulsively marry, Pete learns from his lawyer that because Sandra's divorce is not yet final, their marriage is not legal. Now realizing that he does not love Sandra, Pete flies to Maryland to visit his longtime sweetheart, Maggie Patterson. Maggie loves Pete deeply, but worried about his drinking, she had earlier turned down his proposal. Pete tries to tell Maggie about the new development, but she is too hurt to listen and he flies back to Sandra in New York. Out of a sense of obligation, Pete proposes again to Sandra, and she accepts, but informs him that she will be performing in Philadelphia on the day that her divorce becomes final. After waiting until midnight for Sandra to return to New York and marry him, Pete feels he has fulfilled his duty to her and flies to Maryland to marry Maggie. Five days later, Pete is summoned to Washington, D.C. to discuss a job, and Maggie waits for him in New York. There she learns that Sandra is expecting a baby and intends to use her pregnancy to get Pete back. Pete does not return to New York, however, but leaves immediately for a mapping flight over the Brazilian jungle. When his plane is reported missing and a search party fails to find him, Maggie begs Sandra to have Pete's child and allow her to raise it. In return, Maggie will insure Sandra's financial security. The two women go into seclusion in the Arizona desert to await the birth of the baby. Afterward, Sandra continues her career and Maggie returns home with Pete, Jr., whom she presents as her own child. Sometime later, Pete is found alive and is delighted to learn about his son. Maggie, however, does not tell him who the child's mother really is. Now that Pete has come back, Sandra renews her attempt to use Pete, Jr. to woo Pete, but when she tells Maggie that Pete only stays married to her because of the baby, Maggie angrily discloses the truth to Pete. When he responds that Sandra can take the baby if she insists, but that he will remain with Maggie, Sandra chooses to depart, saying that she will leave Pete, Jr. with his mother.