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A musician newly arrived in New York takes in a taxi dancer.
One summer, saxophonist Pete Hammond, Jr. leaves his hometown of Milwaukee to find his fortune in New York City. Although Pete can speak the language of urban hipsters, he remains a naïve, optimistic young man, sure he can easily conquer the big city. Upon arriving, he is directed to the seedy West Side, populated by other penniless creative types. After some street youths amuse themselves by dousing him with water, Pete escapes into Mac Macreavy's bar, where the kindly owner recommends that he seek a room with the brassy landlady sitting at the end of the bar, Soda. Meanwhile, Soda's tenant, Peggy Brown, attempts to cool off in her apartment across the street. A talented dancer, Peggy is forced to earn her rent as a taxi dancer at a dive run by unscrupulous Nelson Miller, known as Nelly. When a telephone company employee comes to repossess her phone, Peggy wheedles a few more weeks of service in return for a future "date," which she secretly plans to avoid assiduously. She then goes to Mac's, where he counsels her to return home, but even though Nelly is pushing her to become a prostitute in order to repay the money she owes him, she refuses to go back to her abusive parents. While she is at the bar, Soda rents her room, for which she owes several months' rent, to Pete, and when Peggy returns to find him there, he notes her desperation and feels guilty. When Pete then realizes that Peggy has nowhere to go, he offers to let her stay with him until she can find another room. Although she mistrusts his intentions, Peggy has no other choice, and soon comes to understand that Pete is as kind and unassuming as he appears. That night, the telephone man appears, drunk and hoping for his "date." Pete throws him out, but when the man recites Peggy's phone number, Pete realizes that Peggy has indeed promised something to the stranger, and assumes she has duped him into thinking she was respectable. As they argue, Peggy vows that she has never sunk so low, and predicts that one day soon, even Pete will be beaten down by the city's rat race. For weeks, Peggy works through the night at the dance hall, but all her profits go straight to Nelly. Meanwhile, Pete cannot find work, until one afternoon musician Frankie asks him to audition for a jazz combo. Thrilled and certain he will get the gig, Pete buys a mink cape for Peggy and takes her to dinner. Although Peggy remains cynical and points out that the "mink" is really cat fur, Pete's enthusiasm affects everyone, until even the miserly Soda buys them a bottle of wine to celebrate. At the audition, Frankie and his band mates are tough on Pete, and soon ask him to buy them some beer. By the time Pete returns, Frankie, who is actually a hustler, has run off with all of Pete's instruments. Despondent and disillusioned, Pete nonetheless refuses to give up, and despite the disdain of Peggy and Soda, insists on reporting the theft to the police. Soon after, Pete is offered a job playing on a thirty-day cruise, but must somehow buy new instruments in order to take the job. Secretly, Peggy, who is falling in love with Pete, procures a loan from Nelly by agreeing to become a call girl, but plans to elude him until Pete returns from the cruise with money to repay Nelly. In the apartment, Pete is touched to discover a new saxophone awaiting him, and although he suspects that Peggy may have had to debase herself to help him, she assures him that she does not care enough about him to bother. On the cruise, Pete spends his free time writing letters to Peggy intimating that he has feelings for her, and at home, she desperately clings to his letters while fending off Nelly. One night, however, Nelly pulls her into his office, strips her of her clothes and jewelry, then declares that she has nothing without him and orders her to meet her "date." Peggy, planning to run away, goes home to pack, and just then, as Pete returns from the cruise, Nelly and his thug show up to punish Peggy by slashing her face with a knife. Pete gives them all his money, his watch and finally, his instruments as repayment, and after punching him, Nelly leaves without further violence. As Peggy thanks Pete, the police call to inform him they have recovered his instruments, but when he goes to retrieve them, he is presented with a bass fiddle and a violin. Planning to pawn them, he returns to the apartment, only to find Peggy packing to leave. Pete declares his love for her, and when she states that she is bad luck and will only take advantage of him, Pete tells her he believes in her. Her cynicism melting, Peggy falls into his arms, promising "if there's anything left of me, it's yours."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York and Los Angeles openings: 25 May 1960|
|Release Date:||1960||Production Date:||
The Perlberg-Seaton Production
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Perlsea Co.|
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The Rat Race
This is a truly well-acted movie by all concerned. Debbie Reynolds was fantastic especially considering her past work in musicals. The movie itself was...
Wonderful movie for any age.
Debra Melton 2009-11-09
Great actors and outstanding performance
Unusual & Delightful!
I knew I would love this movie the moment the theme music started playing, and the film continued to be fantastic all the way to the end. Although I knew...