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Caught in the Act

Caught in the Act(1941)

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Gangsters Henderson and Davis, who run a protection racket under the name Fidelity Enterprises, attempt to force Leonard Brandon, president of Brandon Construction Company, to purchase their low-quality construction materials. To avoid buying from the thugs, Brandon promotes his scrupulously honest foreman, Italian American Mike Ripportella, to sales. Mike is delighted by the promotion, and leaves that day in high spirits to buy a new suit for his daughter Lucy's wedding. On the way to the store, Fay Kingman, a beautiful blonde, imposes on Mike for a ride because she is being chased by two men. After Mike loses the thugs, Fay thanks him with a kiss which is witnessed by Mike's neighbors. The busybodies report the kiss to Mike's wife Mary, but her rebuke is interrupted when two policemen arrest Mike. Because of his brief encounter with Fay, who was later arrested, the police believe that Mike is a member of the protection racket. Mike learns that Fay is the girl friend of one of the thugs, and while under intense questioning, a befuddled Mike reveals that Brandon is his "boss." The police then arrest Brandon and thereby prevent him from bending to Henderson and Davis' threats. Henderson and Davis, meanwhile, learn that Fay ran away from their thugs because she was upset to learn that they had vandalized construction companies that failed to comply with their demands. When Lucy calls off her wedding because of her father's arrest, her fiancé, reporter Jim Keene, decides to investigate. Mary comes into the police station furious, and is incarcerated with Fay after she slugs a policeman. Jim and Lucy follow her to the station, and based on his investigation, Jim reports to his paper that Brandon is the chief racketeer. Under instructions from Henderson and Davis, their lawyer bails Brandon, Mike and Fay out of jail, and Mike mistakenly thinks Brandon is the real crime boss. Jim and Lucy return to the station to bail the family out, but arrive too late. Jim learns from a policeman where the lawyer resides, and follows the crooked lawyer. Henderson and Davis, meanwhile, believe that Brandon has been operating a protection racket on his own and question Mike and Fay. Mike realizes that the two men are the real criminals and that his boss is innocent. Jim bursts into the apartment just as Henderson and Davis start to brutalize Mike, and he is followed closely by the police. After the racketeers are arrested and Mike and Brandon are cleared, Brandon offers Mike another promotion, but Mike, fearful of the consequences, turns him down.