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King for a Night

King for a Night(1933)

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In Masonville, Reverend John Williams presides over the lives of his children "Bud," Lillian and John. Bud and Lillian feel oppressed by their small town life and their strict religious father. Bud is constantly getting into scrapes around town, and longs to fight in a ring, but respects his father's wishes and abstains from fighting as a career. After John tells his father about a bar fight in which Bud beat a pugilist, Bud leaves his home town for New York, where he finds backers and embarks on a career as a middle-weight fighter known as "Kid" Williams. Bud meets with difficulties, however, and after losing his backers, is forced to take a job in a soda shop. When he falls in love with chorus girl Evelyn Harrington, she introduces him to fight promoter Walter Douglas. Evelyn also helps Lillian find work in a nightclub after she surprises Bud by moving to New York. When Lillian meets Douglas at the nightclub, she begins an affair with him in exchange for his promotion of Bud. Bud meets with success through Douglas' help, and is scheduled to fight in the middle-weight world championship. On the night of the fight, Bud finds Evelyn in a compromising situation with Douglas' married assistant, Nick Merkle. Bud is disgusted by Evelyn's behavior, but she counters him by informing him of his sister's affair with Douglas on his behalf. In the meantime, Douglas, who is really in love with Lillian, has convinced her not to meet with Dick, her hometown boyfriend who is in New York, and Lillian has reluctantly agreed. When Douglas pretends to call Bud and tell him about his affair with Lillian, she shoots him. An angry Bud rushes to Douglas' apartment, where he discovers that Lillian has killed Douglas. Bud takes charge of the situation and, after making sure that Lillian exits unnoticed, leaves his own fingerprints on the gun. Later that evening, while his brother and father listen to the fight on the radio, Bud wins the world championship bout as the police close in on him. Bud is arrested shortly thereafter for Douglas' murder, and the reverend and John read of this the next morning in the newspaper. The reverend goes to New York to stand by his son, who is found guilty and sentenced to death by electrocution. Lillian's confession to the governor is discounted, and with his father close by, Bud faces his death sentence with courage. After his death, a tombstone is erected in his home town reading "Bud--Champion of the World."