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A Gentleman at Heart

A Gentleman at Heart(1942)

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New York City bookie Tony Miller is infuriated upon discovering that one of his workers, Lucky Cullen, has been placing bets under a false name and now owes him $5,000. Tony gives Lucky twenty-four hours to pay up, and as Lucky prepares to leave town, a lawyer arrives at his apartment and tells him that he has inherited the Leonardo Art Gallery from his uncle. Hoping to use the gallery to clear himself, Lucky takes Tony there, but they learn from the manager, Helen Mason, and chief buyer, Stewart Haines, that the gallery, while possessing an excellent reputation, is deeply in debt. Tony is entranced by Helen, however, and, determined to learn about the art world in order to be near her, persuades her to tutor him in exchange for help keeping the gallery open. As time passes, Tony assumes ownership of the gallery, cancels Lucky's debt and falls in love with Helen as they spend long hours touring museums and pouring over art books. In order to get rid of Stewart, who is Helen's boyfriend, Tony sends him to Europe to acquire paintings. Meanwhile, Lucky tells Tony about socialite Claire Barrington, who has fallen upon hard times and wishes to sell a Rembrandt in her possession. Hoping to surprise Helen, Tony and Lucky go to Claire's house, where they buy the painting from her and her uncle for $20,000. Upon returning to the gallery, however, they learn from Helen and the gallery's art expert, Appleby, that the painting is merely a copy worth $500. Furious at being conned, Tony gets his money back from Claire and her "uncle," who is actually an expert forger named Gigi. Gigi's arrogant presumption that he improves upon the masters is supported by the fact that numerous of his canvases are hanging in galleries throughout the country. Tony's anger is assuaged by this news, and he determines to go into the "art racket" with forgeries supplied by Gigi. Their first opportunity comes when Helen tells him about "Two Children of the Court," a long-lost painting by 17th century Spanish artist Velázquez. Pretending to have found it, Tony gives Helen Gigi's forged version, and she decides to auction it at the gallery's grand re-opening. Tony becomes anxious at the auction, however, for the painting is purchased by Finchley, a buyer for the Washington Museum. Tony's anxiety about the government inspectors who will appraise the painting is temporarily forgotten when Stewart arrives with Don Fernando Cortez, who asserts that he owns the real Velázquez painting. Tony purchases Cortez' painting and substitutes it for Gigi's canvas, but Harrison, the government expert, pronounces it a fake. When Helen demands another appraisal, Finchley leaves to get more experts, and while he is gone, Tony confesses the scheme to her. Gigi switches back his canvas while Tony is not looking, and it is pronounced the real thing by the new experts. Relieved but still distraught about having upset Helen, Tony gives her the gallery and asserts that in the future, he will stick to what he knows. Soon after, Tony and Lucky are at the racetrack when they are joined by Helen, who embraces Tony and tells him that she wants him to come back to her. Lucky then reveals that it is Gigi's painting hanging in the Washington museum, and that he paid Cortez with counterfeit money.