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Daring Young Man

Daring Young Man(1942)

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The lives of Jonathan Peckinpaw, the owner of the Peckinpaw Air Conditioning Company, and his grandmother are disrupted when some Nazi spies explode a bomb in their neighbor's apartment and demolish the entire building. As reporters Ann Minter and Ted Johnson arrive to cover the explosion, Jonathan receives a letter from the government notifying him that the equipment necessary for his air conditioning business is being confiscated for the war effort. Blaming the Nazis and the Japanese for ruining his life, Jonathan vows to even the score by joining the military. The reporters clamor to cover Jonathan's enlistment, but after he is rejected by the Air Corps, Navy, Army and Marine Corps because of his poor physical condition, he is ridiculed as a "beloved failure." To encourage Jonathan to develop his physical prowess by bowling, Ann takes him to the Plaza bowling alley, where his appalling clumsiness attracts the attention of Sam Long, a confidence man with a shortwave radio-controlled bowling ball. Recognizing Jonathan as the perfect chump to execute his bowling swindle, Sam bets all onlookers that he can teach Jonathan to bowl three strikes in twenty minutes. By maneuvering the radio controls hidden under his suit jacket, Long wins the bet, but when interference from his radio disrupts a transmission from three German spies, the agents trace the emissions to the bowling alley and hurry there to eliminate the interference. The spies, Marlene Frederick, Karl Rankin and Hans Mueller, invite Long and Jonathan to their room at the Plaza hotel. When Ann returns to the bowling alley and sees Jonathan leaving with the trio, she follows them. At the hotel, Jonathan recognizes the spies's suite as having once belonged to an old sea captain who commissioned him to design a custom-made air conditioning system. Long and Jonathan are about to imbibe some poison-laced drinks offered by the spies when Ann knocks at the door, and Jonathan leaves with her to demonstrate his bowling prowess. Later, the spies decide to eradicate Long and Jonathan after the bowling championship the following evening and invite them to a victory celebration at a private room in the Hideaway Club. After drugging Long and Jonathan, however, the spies discover Long's radio device and decide to spare their lives and use Long's broadcasts to send messages using a secret numbers code. When Ann arrives at the club looking for Jonathan, Marlene pretends that the unconscious Jonathan is drunkenly embracing her, causing Ann to become jealous and to refuse to see Jonathan again. Determined to win back Ann's affections with riches, Jonathan agrees to make product endorsements. After earning enough money to support his grandmother, he goes to her retirement home and discovers that she has won the institution in a crap game. Smitten by her grandson's new friend Rankin, Grandma abandons the home for a suite at the Plaza and buys a new wardrobe to woo him. Meanwhile, the Office of Special Investigation has traced radio messages to the area of the bowling alley and dispatches agent Bill White to investigate. When the spies recognize White, they force Long out of the bowling alley at gunpoint. Without Long's guidance, Jonathan slams his bowling ball into an onlooker's head. Upon discovering that Jonathan's ball is radio-controlled, the bettors demand their money back and when Jonathan is unable to oblige, they recoup their losses with their fists. Hospitalized, Jonathan is visited by Ann, who realizes that he must have been drugged at the Hideaway and that his new friends are spies. To demonstrate her forgiveness, Ann kisses Jonathan, who emboldened by her embrace, dons his clothes and hurries to the hotel to confront the Nazis. There, the trio knock Jonathan out and lock him in a storage room. Upon regaining consciousness, Jonathan learns from a porter that the spies have ordered a trunk delivered to their room. After notifying the press that three Nazi agents are going to jump into a net in front of the Plaza Hotel, Jonathan stuffs an air vent with burning paper and, while disguised in blackface, delivers the trunk to the spies's room. Blocking the door with the trunk, Jonathan opens the vent, letting in the smoke and causing the agents to think that the building is on fire. When the spies recognize Jonathan, he combats them with the spray from the shower. As firemen, summoned by the alarm, unfurl a net, the agents chase Jonathan across the water-slicked floor and slide across the room, out the window and into the net. His good name restored, Jonathan is hailed as a hero and inducted into the service.