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Allotment Wives

Allotment Wives(1945)

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Throughout World War II and into peace time, the U.S. government operates the Office of Dependency Benefits, which handles the issuing of allotment checks and family allowances to women with husbands serving in the forces. However, when evidence of many fraudulent claims for support come to light, Col. Pete Martin of Army Intelligence is assigned to O.D.B. to find the unscrupulous women who have been entering into multiple marriages with servicemen in order to claim their allotments and allowances. Posing as a newspaper reporter, his former occupation, Pete is sent to the West Coast to begin his investigations. In a restaurant, Pete observes a transfer of cash between a young woman, Helen Keefe, and a suspicious-looking George Shields, who then introduces her to a young soldier. From the bar, Pete, incognito, orders their arrest. At the same time, Mrs. Sheila Seymour, the owner of a high-class beauty salon and organizer of an entertainment canteen for servicemen, notices Pete and introduces herself. Unknown to Pete, Sheila is really the mastermind of the allotment fraud racket, along with associates Whitey Colton, Deacon Sam and Louis Moranto. Later, Sheila accuses Moranto of being careless, then fires him and orders Whitey to check up on Pete. Whitey later reports that he has tailed Pete to the O.D.B. office. When Sheila sees her daughter Connie, who knows nothing about her mother's activities and is about to graduate from a private school, at a bar with a girl friend and two soldiers, she is dismayed by her behavior and takes her home. Sheila meets Pete again at the canteen, where he is supposedly researching an article, and agrees to meet him the next day. Meanwhile, one of Moranto's former henchmen, Spike Malone, and his girl friend, Gladys Smith, try to enter the upper echelons of the racket. Gladys realizes that she knows Sheila from reform school, and she and Spike follow her home, where Gladys also spots Connie. Although Connie fights bitterly with her mother, she eventually agrees to return to school for the remaining two months. Sheila then plans to quit the racket and tells Connie that they will travel to South America with Whitey, of whom they are both fond. Pete has not yet connected Sheila with the racket and, the next day at lunch, warns her that some girls are using the canteen to find "husbands." When Gladys calls on Sheila and begins to blackmail her, Sheila responds by calling Whitey and arranging to have Gladys turned in to the police for racketeering and bigamy. In jail, Gladys learns from Helen, who subsequently commits suicide, that Sheila is running the allotment racket. After she is released on a technicality, Gladys and Spike involve Connie in a series of wild parties. Later, Gladys and Spike break into Sheila's house and hold her at gunpoint, then demand a large sum of money for Connie's return. Sheila tips off Whitey about their presence, and he and his men come to her rescue and shoot Spike, who escapes. Sheila then shoots and kills Gladys. After Pete takes Connie into custody, he asks Sheila to counsel the troubled young girl, unaware that she is Connie's mother. Sheila arranges for Whitey and the others to break in and free Connie, but Whitey is shot. Pete discovers Spike's whereabouts and links him to Sheila through a pack of French cigarettes. Meanwhile, Connie and Sheila reconcile and get ready to leave for Mexico. Sheila then sends Connie off with the trustworthy Deacon, while she prepares to face Pete. However, Connie and Deacon are prevented from leaving, and when Sheila attempts to shoot Pete, she is shot and killed by one of his aides. Later, Pete turns in his report to the head of O.B.D., who agrees to "bury" Connie's history in the files.