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A tax agent falls for a farm girl whose father he's investigating.
In a rural area outside of Baltimore, Maryland, affable farmer Sidney "Pop" Larkin borrows wealthy neighbor Wendell Burnshaw's prize winning hog to mate with his sow, and upon returning it, cheerfully promises Burnshaw the pick of the litter. Outraged by Pop's blithe attitude, Burnshaw summons his lawyer David DeGroot to discuss how he might force Pop and his large family, comprised of eldest daughter Mariette, brothers Lee and Grant and twin girls Susan and Victoria, off their land. Long disgusted by Pop's method of trading for all of the family and farm needs, Burnshaw suspects that the Larkins have great wealth and DeGroot offers to check their tax filings. The following day, Burnshaw and DeGroot meet with Internal Revenue Service district chief Oliver Kelsey and learn that the Larkins have never filed a tax return. Kelsey assigns his best investigator, clever Lorenzo Charlton, to the case. That same afternoon, Lorenzo is warmly greeted at the Larkin farm and invited to coffee by Ma before he can explain his visit. Upon learning of Lorenzo's job, Pop immediately declares that he has never paid taxes and Lorenzo patiently explains that anyone earning more than six hundred dollars must pay. Pop admits that currently he has just under two hundred dollars, the most money he's had in many months. Unnerved by Mariette's buoyant charm, Lorenzo struggles to maintain a professional attitude and sternly demands to see the family's financial books. Pop explains there are no books due to the long-time Larkin tradition of trading for all their necessities, including furniture and appliances. As an example of the difficulties wrought by using money, Pop tells Lorenzo that during the Civil War, the government took the family's horses and never paid for them, despite a written guarantee. Sensing Lorenzo's frustration, Mariette offers to help him inventory of the property. After proudly relating that the farm has been in the family for over one hundred and fifty years, Mariette then takes Lorenzo to a spot by the river and declares it offers the most priceless thing the Larkins own: peace and contentment. Unwillingly calmed by the restful setting, Lorenzo confides his ambition of gaining a law degree to serve in Congress in order to instill responsibility in the nation's citizens. When Mariette questions him, Lorenzo admits that he is motivated by seeing the many people he audits, including the Larkins, who do nothing, provide nothing and are nothing. Fascinated by Lorenzo's unusual character, Mariette abruptly kisses him and, startled, Lorenzo slides into the river. Returning to the house, Lorenzo is disturbed that Lee and Grant have cleaned his car, but they explain that helping others is natural. Just then, Kelsey telephones Lorenzo for news and encourages Lorenzo to remain firm with the Larkins. Meanwhile, Ma tells Pa that she thinks that Mariette likes Lorenzo and they wonder how they might encourage him to remain longer. Overhearing the conversation, Grant and Lee offer to tamper with the car, but Ma reminds them it is a government vehicle. After hanging up with Kelsey, Lorenzo lectures the Larkins that cheating the government is like cheating your family because the government is made up of the people. When Pop asks if government property belongs to everyone, Lorenzo replies affirmatively, which sends Lee and Grant sneaking out to his car. As dinner time approaches, Lorenzo begins listing the family's assets, while, at Ma's suggestion, Mariette changes out of her work clothes and Pop puts together a specialty cocktail. When Lorenzo announces that he has determined that the organ the family acquired provides five hundred dollars of taxable profit, Pop counters that he donated it to the church. Confounded by the Larkins continual ability to evade firm financial earnings, Lorenzo accepts Pop's cocktail and soon is dancing wildly with Mariette to music from the record player. That night when Kelsey calls and realizes that Lorenzo is drunk, he orders him to check into a hotel and finish the audit the following day. After Lorenzo discovers that Lee and Grant have removed his car's engine, he passes out and Pa and Ma place him in Mariette's room for the night, while Mariette moves to the living room. The next morning, Mariette tiptoes back to her room to retrieve clothes and, waking, Lorenzo is shocked, believing they have spent the night together. Stunned when Ma and Pa appear blasé about the previous night, Lorenzo is further unsettled when Reverend Osgood and police chief Guthrie arrive. Lorenzo blurts out that being drunk, he has no recollection of his actions. The confused pastor reveals he only stopped by to express his gratitude for the organ, which Chief Guthrie plays in church. Insulted by Lorenzo's suspicions, Mariette storms off on her horse, ignoring Lorenzo's apologies. When Pop offers Lornezo advice on women, Lorenzo wearily asks for the property probate file, hoping to learn the value of the farm when it was inherited. Later that day, a subdued Mariette finds Lorenzo going through the family files in the barn and is delighted to find the 1862 government receipt for the Larkin horses. A little later, three of Mariette's local boyfriends come visiting and, finding the couple kissing in a haystack, attack Lorenzo. Mariette summons the family to help defend Lorenzo and in the midst of the ensuing melee, Kelsey and Burnshaw arrive. Aghast at Lorenzo's disheveled state, Kelsey takes over the audit. Lorenzo returns to his office surprised that he is more upset about letting the Larkins down, than in potentially ruining his career. The following day, utilizing Lorenzo's figures, Kelsey returns to the farm to announce the family owes $50,000 and informs Pop that if he cannot pay, the government will sell the farm or auction off their property. Furious, Mariette takes Kelsey's car and races to the Baltimore revenue office where she bursts into Lorenzo's office seeking help. When Mariette suggests that Lorenzo counter the audit by making a claim on the horse receipt, he laments that bureaucracy would delay them. Undaunted, Mariette rushes off to Washington to confront Inspector General Bigelow. Lorenzo follows and when he finds Mariette being bodily removed from the building by the police, he provides a distraction, allowing the two to escape and break into Bigelow's office. Meanwhile, back at the Larkins', just as Pop agrees to sell the farm, townspeople arrive and offer to buy the property at inflated prices to provide Pop with money. Pop thanks his friends for their kindness, then is interrupted by the arrival of a helicopter carrying Bigelow, Lorenzo and Mariette. Brushing aside Kelsey's report, Bigelow informs Pop that the ninety-six-year-old horse claim reveals that, due to the interest accrued, the government owes the Larkins fourteen million dollars. As everyone bursts into cheers, Pop tells Bigelow he doesn't want the money if he and his family can simply remain tax free all their lives. After Bigelow agrees, Lorenzo follows Mariette to the haystack as Burnshaw's hog breaks out of his pen to rejoin the Larkin sow.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1959||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Metrocolor)||Distributions Co:||Loew's Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (Westrex Recording System)||Production Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
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The tax game
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