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A newspaperwoman turns a man who thinks he's dying into a national hero.
One day in Desert Hole, New Mexico, bumbling train station attendant Homer Flagg impulsively hops a passing train, hoping it will take him to an exciting new life in New York. Instead, Homer is chased off the train by an MP and jumps into an abandoned automobile near the tracks. Oblivious to a sign on the front grille identifying the car as radioactive, Homer drives off toward the Los Alamos nuclear test site and ends up at a gas station. When Homer finally notices the sign, he faints, and the next day, his imminent death from radiation poisoning is announced in newspapers across the country. In New York, Morning Chronicle reporter Wally Cook convinces her wary publisher, Oliver Stone, that Homer's terminal illness would be great fodder for a series of articles and talks him into inviting Homer to spend his last days in New York at the paper's expense. Homer, meanwhile, learns from his incompetent doctor, Steve Harris, that he was misdiagnosed and is not dying after all. Homer is unhappy about the news, as the railroad was about to give him $300 to go to New York, and reluctantly returns to the depot. There, Homer meets Wally as she is disembarking, and when she tells him about The Chronicle's offer, cannot bring himself to admit he is healthy. Homer races to Steve's office and begs him not to send his amended medical report to the railroad, but Steve refuses until Wally shows up and enchants him. Steve then insists on accompanying Homer to New York, and on the plane there, knocks Homer out with some pills and flirts shamelessly with an unreceptive Wally. In New York, Homer receives a hero's welcome and is put up at the Park Ritz Hotel, where he begins ordering room service, a new wardrobe and other expensive amenities. Steve cautions Homer to act sick, but Homer has a difficult time suppressing his excitement during highly publicized appearances at Yankee Stadium and the Wonderland Ballroom. There, while Steve tries to romance Wally, Homer dances a wild jitterbug after a waiter slips him some vodka and champagne, then collapses on the floor. The next day, at the hotel, Steve ministers to a hungover Homer, whose guilt at deceiving Wally and the world is starting to take its toll. To please Steve, Homer agrees to tell Wally that Steve loves her and wants to marry her, even though he is in love with her, too. When Wally shows up and admits to Homer that she is going to talk to the governor about erecting a statue in his honor, Homer protests that he is unworthy. Seeing his opportunity, Homer then tells Wally how much Steve loves her, but Wally insists that she loves Homer and wants to marry him. Swept up in the moment, Homer agrees and later rejects Steve's angry suggestion that he tell Wally the truth to ensure that she is marrying him for love. Just before the ceremony, however, Homer overhears Wally confess to Steve that she actually loves him but wants to make Homer's last days happy. At the altar, Homer refuses to say "I do" and runs back to the hotel to pack. When Wally, Oliver and the mayor demand to see him, Homer hangs from a chandelier and pretends he is a fighter pilot, hoping to convince them that he has gone insane. His act works, but Wally is so filled with pity that she talks Oliver into paying to have the top radiation sickness experts flown to New York. Wally distracts Steve, who has stipulated that only he be allowed to treat Homer, long enough to kidnap Homer and take him to the hospital where the foreign doctors are to examine him. To prevent the examination, Steve tries to knock Homer out, but is himself knocked out. When the unconscious Steve is mistaken for Homer and wheeled in to be X-rayed, Homer dons different disguises and impersonates each of the three doctors separately in an attempt to fool them into diagnosing radiation sickness. The doctors deduce Homer's scheme, however, and inform Oliver that he is as healthy as a horse. Unaware they have been exposed, Steve comes up with the idea to publicly "cure" Homer, and the two begin to celebrate their cleverness. Wally arrives unexpectedly at the hotel, however, and reveals that she is on to them. Though relieved that Homer is well, Wally demands that he fake committing suicide, then slip out of town. As directed by Wally, Homer leaves a suicide note in his hotel room and goes with Steve and a camera-wielding Wally to "drown" himself in the river. The note is soon found by some Boy Rangers, who notify the fire department and Oliver. Determined to see Wally's scheme succeed, the mayor, Oliver and his "sluggers" race to the river to cajole the frightened Homer into jumping before the fire department arrives to save him. Homer instead falls into the river, crashing through his rescue rowboat. The rowboat sinks, and later, after Homer's grand public funeral, Homer and Steve, who has married Wally, undertake the jobs assigned to them by the mayor--street cleaning.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Atlantic City, NJ: 15 Jul 1954; New York opening: 23 Jul 1954; Los Angeles opening: 4 Aug 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono (Western Electric Recording)||Production Co:||York Pictures Corp.|
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Living It Up (1954)
James Higgins 2010-04-16
For those who can tolerate Jerry Lewis' whiny and irritating characterizations better than myself will likely enjoy this film. It is an inferior...
Dean and Jerry at there best
Jack Phillippe 2006-10-15
Gentlemen: I worked at the Stanley theater in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1954 as a doorman when this film was released. I thought the film was released in...