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Lonely Hearts Bandits

Lonely Hearts Bandits(1950)

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After reading a classified ad for the Happy Hearts Club, handsome swindler Wade Antrim seeks out Louise Curtis, who hustles men through the club, and convinces her to become his partner in a sophisticated romance scam. Although Wade and Louise marry, they pose as brother and sister so that Louise can seduce naïve farmer Elmer Jayson. They lure Elmer to an abandonded farmhouse, but when Wade sneaks into Elmer's room and tries to steal his money, Elmer catches him and starts to strangle him. Louise pulls a gun and shoots Elmer, and the two flee. Later, the pair open a mail-order club called "Lonely Hearts Friend," through which Carter Springs spinster Bertha Martin finds a husband, railroad engineer Cal. Bertha then tells Nancy Crane, a widow with whom she lives, about the club and urges her to contact Wade. Soon after, Wade, who has just fleeced a middle-aged widow of her savings, receives a letter from Nancy, inviting him to visit her in Carter Springs. Wade arrives with Louise, who again poses as his sister, and quickly wins gentle Nancy's heart. To the surprise of longtime admirer Aaron Hart, who has proposed marriage to her numerous times, Nancy announces her engagement to Wade during a party at her house. When Louise sees Wade kissing Nancy, she seethes with jealousy, but Wade assures her that he is only interested in Nancy's house and bonds. Wade then orders Louise to "lose" Nancy during a shopping trip to Chicago. Before they leave, Louise intercepts a telegram from Nancy's son Bobby in Saudi Arabia, stating that he is returning home. Louise wires Bobby back, requesting that he not come, and signs the message "Mother." As Bobby always calls his mother Nancy, he knows that the telegram is phony and heads for home. Later, while on the train to Chicago, Nancy insists to Louise that Wade is deeply in love with her, causing Louise to explode with anger and reveal Wade's duplicity. When a shocked Nancy declares that she is going to the police, Louise pushes her off the moving train. Sometime later, Nancy lies comatose in a hospital, her identity unknown. In Carter Springs, meanwhile, Laurel Vernon, Bobby's girl friend, tells Aaron that postcards supposedly sent from Nancy to her and others in town are forgeries. Aaron goes to Nancy's house to confront Wade, who has been finalizing the sale of the property and collecting on Nancy's bonds, but Wade knocks him down and escapes in his car. Aaron notifies Sheriff Polk of the situation, and Polk, in turn, alerts the state police, who set up road blocks. Wade drives through the road blocks, shooting wildly at the police, and makes his way to his hideout, where Louise awaits him. At the same time, Bobby arrives home, and newlyweds Bertha and Cal also show up at Nancy's. Bertha and Cal tell Bobby and Aaron about the Friend's club and, with help from police detective Lt. Carroll and a butcher on the Chicago-bound train, Louise and Wade, whose real name is Tony Morell, are identified. After he is deputized by Polk, Bobby tracks Wade to a pool hall, but as he is arresting the swindler, he is attacked by a friend of Wade's, and Wade escapes during the ensuing brawl. Wade then ambushes a taxi and drives to his hideout. Through Louise's former employer at Happy Hearts, Carroll discovers the hideout's location, but when the police descend on the remote cabin, they are met by gunfire. The police fire tear gas into the cabin, and Wade tries to escape out the back, but is shot down. Louise, who has been wounded, surrenders. Later, while a recovered Nancy finally accepts the devoted Aaron's proposal, Bobby and Laurel make their own wedding plans.