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Four Mothers

Four Mothers(1941)

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Music professor Adam Lemp lives in the small town of Briarwood, close to the families of three of his four daughters. Ann and her husband, Felix Dietz, a composer, have a small daughter, as do Emma and her inventor husband, Ernest Talbot. Kay and her husband, Clint Forrest, a doctor researching a disease that is killing the town's factory workers, live among the workers in a small house. Thea, her husband, Ben Crowley, and their twins live in Florida where Ben has made a fortune selling real estate. One night, when the entire family is together, Kay breaks down in tears because Clint's dedication to his work frequently keeps him away from home. Later that night, the family learns that a hurricane and tidal wave in Florida have completely destroyed Ben's real estate development. Not only have Thea and Ben lost everything, but Adam and his sister Etta have invested heavily, and many people in town, having purchased land on Adam's advice, are also affected. Ann suggests that they recoup some of their losses by selling land that they own in Briarwood, but Ben proposes that they develop it instead. No one in town will buy these new lots, however, as they hold their Florida losses against the Lemps, particularly Adam. Guilt-ridden, Adam decides to reimburse the townspeople out of his own pocket, but when he tries to borrow money, the bank refuses the loan and suggests instead that he sell the family home. Then Adam is dismissed by the music foundation because they find his taste for Beethoven old-fashioned. Meanwhile, the daughters' husbands decide to earn the money to pay back the townspeople themselves. Felix will take a job in Chicago rather than compose his new symphony. Ben and Ernest each find jobs as well. To Kay's delight, Clint agrees to leave the factory and go into practice with his father. On the day that they move from the worker housing, however, Clint notices that the ceiling crumbles slightly each time a train rattles the foundations. Convinced that he has at last discovered the cause of the workers' illness, he goes straight to his laboratory, once again leaving Kay alone. Fed up, Kay joins Felix in Chicago to look for work as a singer. Despite his family's efforts, Adam sells the house to an investor who plans to destroy it and build apartments. The family tearfully stores their favorite things, and Adam and Etta leave town to live in a small apartment. The family seems to have fallen apart, but things look up when Clint confirms that the disease is caused by particles of the walls in the workers' houses. Kay and Felix return from Chicago, then Adam is appointed the head of a Beethoven festival, and after his successful performance as conductor, is rehired by the Briarwood music foundation. Ben's development is now successful and when Adam and Etta return to town, they discover that the old Lemp house has been reconstructed on a new lot. The family's joy is complete when Kay reveals that she is pregnant.