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American Madness

American Madness(1932)

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Union National Bank president Thomas Dickson is chastised by the bank's board of directors, who are upset about Dickson's generous lending practices. The directors also disapprove of Dickson's assertion that the way to end the Depression is to get more money into circulation, thereby enabling businesses to keep going. While the directors' meeting is going on, head cashier Cyril Cluett is threatened by gangster Dude Finlay for not paying his gambling debts. Finlay orders Cluett to help his gang rob the bank that night by making sure the safe is open. Cluett reluctantly agrees, and Finlay tells him to establish an alibi. After Finlay leaves, Dickson's wife Phyllis arrives, and when Dickson's secretary Helen tells her Dickson is busy, Phyllis goes to see Cluett. Because Phyllis is lonely and constantly ignored by her busy husband, Cluett asks her out to dinner that night. She turns him down, but goes with him anyway when Dickson forgets their anniversary and makes plans to be out of town. Head teller Matt Brown, who had seen Cluett's advances toward Phyllis, goes to Cluett's apartment that night to discuss the matter with him, and finds Phyllis, who agrees to leave with Matt. A few moments later, the bank is robbed and the guard killed by Finlay's gang. The next morning the robbery is discovered, and Matt, who is responsible for locking the safe, is arrested. In order to spare Phyllis' reputation, even though it will hurt his fiancée Helen, Matt lies to the police, telling them he was at home when the robbery occurred. His alibi is disproven, and while things grow worse for him, exaggerated reports of the robbery spread until a run on the bank begins. Dickson tries to calm the mob, but as they overwhelm him, the tellers inform him that they will soon run out of money. Dickson appeals to the directors, but they agree to help only if he resigns and gives them an option on his bank stock. He refuses, and while he is calling his friends for help, the police find out about Finlay's visit to Cluett, after which they quickly discover the identity of the robbers and release Matt. Dickson finds out that Phyllis was with Cluett, and, crushed by her apparent betrayal as well as his friends' refusals to aid him, he agrees to the directors' deal. Matt and Helen ask the bank clients into whom Dickson has put so much faith to return the favor and help Dickson by making deposits. As they begin to stream in, their deposits, in addition to Phyllis' pleas, prevent Dickson from committing suicide, and he emerges from his office to take control of the bank. The directors are inspired by the depositors' confidence and invest their own fortunes, which averts disaster. Everything soon returns to normal, and Dickson orders Matt and Helen to get married while he and Phyllis take a second honeymoon.