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The Bigamist

The Bigamist(1953)

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In San Francisco, California, Harry Graham shows discomfort as he signs an application allowing an investigation of his life so that he and his wife Eve may adopt a son. As Harry's deep-freezer business takes him frequently to Los Angeles on sales calls, the adoption agency's investigator, Mr. Jordan, also checks Harry's references there. Jordan learns that while former employers praise Harry, the people in his own office think he is anti-social. The secretary is unable to locate a hotel where Harry is a registered guest, and Jordan's curiosity is further piqued upon finding a letter opener engraved with the name "Harrison Graham." Jordan goes to the address listed in the telephone book for that name and finds Harry at home with another wife and a baby. Harry confesses that he has been leading a double life and reveals that when he and Eve discovered they could not have children four years earlier, she put all her energy into their business. As a result, Harry felt estranged from his wife. He reflects that his current problems began on a Sunday eight months earlier: Harry takes a bus tour of the homes of Hollywood stars and meets Phyllis Martin, who is sitting across the aisle from him. Although Phyllis initially rejects his attempts at conversation, by the end of the tour she takes him to the Canton Café, where she works as a waitress. Harry walks Phyllis home that night, but does not expect to see her again. In San Francisco, his wish for a weekend alone with Eve is thwarted by the dinner party she has thrown for their attorney, Tom Morgan, and a potential client, Carl Forbes. When they are alone later on, Harry remarks that he and Eve have only been together for six days in the previous month, but Eve is too tired to take interest in his suggestion that they take a vacation together. A disillusioned Harry renews his friendship with Phyllis but when his birthday arrives, he cancels plans to go out with Phyllis because he realizes he is falling in love with her. Phyllis comes to Harry's hotel room unexpectedly, and after her obvious affection changes his mind, they spend the evening together. The next day, Harry returns home where he finds Eve packing for a trip to Florida because her father has suffered a heart attack. Before her plane takes off, Eve apologizes for her behavior during the previous four years, and they agree to adopt a child. Harry remains in San Francisco to look after the office, but when Eve does not return for an extended period, he travels to Los Angeles on business. Harry learns that Phyllis has quit her job and that she is pregnant with his child, conceived on the night of his birthday. Harry is torn by his responsibilities, but after Eve informs him that her father has died and she will remain longer in Florida to help her mother, he proposes to Phyllis. Phyllis is fiercely independent and initially refuses on the grounds that she does not want Harry to feel forced into marriage. However, Harry assures her that he is in love with her, and because she also loves him, she accepts his proposal. Harry returns to San Francisco to find that Eve is home and has begun adoption proceedings. He then concludes that he should wait to tell her about Phyllis until after the adoption is legal. Harry's double life continues, until one night when Eve surprises him with a visit in Los Angeles for their eighth wedding anniversary. Eve's suspicions are aroused when Ricky, a young man on the street, asks Harry for a ride home. However, Harry explains Ricky's request by saying that his hotel is near Ricky's house, and that he often dines with the family. The next morning after Eve departs, Harry goes home to Phyllis and their son Daniel. Phyllis is furious because Ricky's mother told her that Harry was seen with another woman. She throws Harry out, and Harry is relieved that he will now be able to end his double life. However, the next day, Phyllis changes her mind and they return home together. This brings Harry to the present. Although Jordan initially considered calling the police, he now calls a taxi and leaves. His conscience troubled, Harry writes a farewell note to Phyllis and goes to San Francisco, where he also bids farewell to Eve and turns himself over to the authorities. In a courtroom, Tom pleads for mercy as a judge considers Harry's bigamy. The judge weighs Harry's decent intentions against the criminality of his actions, and points out that it is unlikely that either wife will wait for Harry. The judge then adjourns court for the next week, when he will pass sentence on Harry. As Phyllis and Eve watch, Harry is led away by police.