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Seven Sweethearts

Seven Sweethearts(1942)

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Reporter Henry Taggart arrives in the quaint town of Little Delft, Michigan, to cover the hamlet's annual tulip festival, and meets Papa Van Maaster, the local hotel proprietor, who strongly believes that the town's easy-going, old-fashioned ways are the best. Papa has seven daughters, all beautiful, and all but the oldest, spoiled Regina, have boys names and work at the hotel. New Yorker Henry is at first befuddled by the casual ambiance at the hotel, but soon brightens when he meets Papa's youngest and feistiest daughter, Billie. Although it is early May, constant rain prevents Henry from taking photographs for his article and forces him to extend his stay, during which he learns more about Delft's way of life. One evening, he meets vain and lazy Regina, who is determined to be an actress. Because Regina is unmarried, family tradition dictates that her younger sisters cannot marry, even though all but Billie are secretly engaged. The family encourages Henry to take a drive with Regina and he tries to impress her with talk about his "Broadway" friends. He still prefers Billie, who tells him that Regina is Papa's favorite and asks him not to encourage her to go to New York. He asks Billie to be the "Dutch" girl in his pictures, and the next evening, all of the sisters except self-centered Regina, who has a cold, notice the blossoming romance. During a ride in the rain, Henry confesses to Billie how much he likes her, and tries to kiss her, but she says that she does not want to be familiar with a guest. The next day, after church, Miss Robbins, a long-standing guest at the hotel, tells Henry that Billie is in love with him, and he admits that he wants to marry her. At the festival, the townspeople are all dressed in traditional Dutch costumes and go through various rituals, including the washing of the street and buildings. Papa is in the marching band and the girls perform a wooden shoe dance, during which Henry grabs Billie away and proposes. She loves him, but tells him that she could not leave their home because, like flowers, she would die if transplanted. She also tells him about the eldest daughter tradition. Not dissuaded, Henry plans to ask Papa for Billie's hand, but when he and Billie arrive back at the hotel, Regina is angry that he is no longer interested in her. Jan Randall, a Viennese musician who has lived at the hotel for several years, has secretly had a crush on Billie, but, on Henry's suggestion, decides to pursue Regina, whom he had thought unobtainable. Henry then goes to Papa, who guesses that he is asking for his daughter's hand, but thinks that Regina is the one. When Papa ecstatically fetches Regina, Henry is so flustered that he cannot explain what is wrong. Regina knows the truth, but secretly tells Henry that she wants him to take her to New York right away and threatens to tell Papa if he tries to talk his way out of it. In his panic, Henry asks the sisters and Miss Robbins to help him elope with Billie, but she refuses because of the tradition. She and the other sisters then try to talk Regina out of going to New York and hurting Papa. When Regina callously says she doesn't care what Papa wants, Billie slaps her. A few moments later, Papa tells Billie to go to sing her song at the festival. When she cannot continue singing and leaves the stage, Papa runs after her to see what is wrong. Henry follows them and tells Papa that he loves Billie and wants to take her to New York. Papa sadly tells them to go immediately, but after he leaves, Billie tells Henry that she could never hurt Papa by leaving and kisses him goodbye. Some time later, when Henry is in New York and completing his article on the festival, he gets a call from Regina, who is also in New York and wants to see him and meet his producer friends. As she waits for Henry at her hotel, Papa arrives and tells her that he will not stand in her way and plans to send her to the best acting schools. He also reveals that he has brought Miss Robbins and Randall with him to be her guardians. When Henry arrives, Papa reveals his plans for Regina and then "proposes" that he and Billie should marry. Papa is happy at Henry's eager acceptance because he now has a son--Henry the Eighth. Finally, at a large wedding ceremony in Delft, all of the sisters marry their fianc├ęs, including Regina, who returns home, happily in love with Randall.