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The First Year

The First Year(1932)

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Grace Livingston, living with her parents in the small town of Reading, longs to get married and leave home for a life with some adventure and romance. One of her two beaux, Dick Loring, a construction engineer who is leaving in a week to take a position with the railroad, asks Grace to elope, but she refuses. Grace's other beau, Tommy Tucker, a bashful real estate saleman who is satisfied with Reading, follows the advice of Grace's uncle, Dr. Myron Anderson, and grabs Grace in his arms when they are alone. Surprised and excited, Grace promises to marry him if they go somewhere else to live. They marry and move to Joplin, Missouri, where Tommy buys a real estate business. Eleven months later, they are five months behind in rent payments, and their marriage is beset with bickering. Tommy has been scrimping, and secretly, with Grace's Liberty bonds, he has slowly and shrewdly acquired land that the railroad needs to build a new spur. On the day that the railroad's option to buy expires, their purchasing agent, Pete Barstow, reminds the absent-minded Tommy that Tommy previously invited him and his wife to dinner. Tommy calls Grace, who frantically prepares dinner, and when she learns that her black maid is sick with the "misery" and cannot act as server, Grace tries to instruct the maid's slow-witted daughter Hattie in proper serving etiquette. Despite some gaffes during dinner, Barstow announces that he has decided to accept Tommy's selling price of $100,000, which greatly excites Grace; however, Dick, who now works for the same railroad as Barstow, unexpectedly visits, and after Grace greets him a bit too warmly for Tommy, he announces that the location of the spur has been changed and will not run through Tommy's property. Enraged and confused, Tommy blurts out his suspicion that Dick and Barstow planned Dick's entrance to drive down the price. Insulted, Barstow leaves, and afterward, Grace and Tommy separate when she says she believes that Dick is right. As she travels home, Barstow returns and says he has confirmed that the original location was correct. Five days later, Grace, unhappy at home, confides in her uncle Myron, who has just returned from a trip, that she is pregnant. After he tells her that he went to visit Tommy and found him in the hospital suffering from poisoning, probably from some homemade liquor Hattie provided, Grace feels she is to blame and plans to go to him immediately; however, when her father reads from the newspaper that Tommy's real estate venture is a success, she feels that Tommy would think she is coming back because of the money. Unknown to Grace, Tommy has returned to town with Myron. When he sees Dick, who has lost his job, consoling Grace, he fights him. As they wrestle, Grace throws a vase at Dick, but hits Tommy instead. When Tommy learns that Grace is pregnant, they reconcile, and as they embrace, he says he hopes the baby will like them.