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Action for Slander

Action for Slander(1938)

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British army Major George Daviot is surprised when his wife Ann leaves him because their "ideal marriage" was based more on friendship than love. Soon after, George and his best friend, Charles Cinderford, go North on a shooting trip, where they are guests at the country estate of Sir Bernard Roper, along with Captain Hugh Bradford, a fellow officer whom George detests, and Bradford's wife Josie, with whom George has been conducting a clandestine affair. With Ann gone, George wants Josie to leave Hugh and marry him, but Josie, who is very extravagant, fears that without Ann's money as support, George's military income will not be sufficient. One evening, George and Hugh are in a poker game with fellow guest John Grant, when George's four threes best Grant's full house. Angered, the intoxicated Grant accuses George of cheating, and the charge is backed up by Hugh, who knows about Josie and George's affair. George strikes Grant and threatens to take action for slander. Later that evening, everyone tries to talk George out of the action, including Josie, who implies that she will not back him up. Charles also warns George that without substantiating a motive for Charles's compliance, the suit would fail. His friends believe him and promise to keep quiet about the incident, fearful that public knowledge about their large poker wagers would create a scandal, but they too urge him not to sue. Disillusioned with Josie and his friends, George changes his mind about the suit and leaves. Despite promises that the incident will be kept quiet, word leaks and George is shunned by his fellow officers. He goes on extended leave, then, when he discovers that he has been blackballed by members of his club, he moves to an out-of-the-way boardinghouse and stays there for a year. During the year, while Ann stays in France, sulking over George, word leaks to the press about the cheating incident and Charles convinces George's other friends to take the proper stand in the case. They go to see George, offering their support in a slander case, but George has become so embittered that he refuses their help and sends them away. Charles then travels to France to see Ann, who knows nothing of what has happened, and tells her everything. When she goes to see George, she realizes that he was on the verge of shooting himself just before she arrived. Deeply concerned, she coerces George into initiating the slander action by telling him that her reputation is at stake as well. She also gets him to give her the gun, on the condition that if he loses the case, she will give it back to him. Ann then goes to see barrister Sir Quinton Jessops, who only agrees to take the case when she makes him realize that her husband's life is really at stake. During the trial, Jessops pleads that George's honor is his life, and without that he has nothing to live for. He restages the scene of the poker game, and by carefully reenacting it, with Hugh sitting in for George, proves that the method of cheating Hugh described could not possibly have taken place. Angered by the injustice that has befallen George, Judge Trotter tells the jury that they must find for the plaintiff. Finally exonerated, George is told by Ann that she will never leave him again, and they embrace, ready to start their married life over.