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Reunion in Reno

Reunion in Reno(1951)

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In Reno, Nevada, nine-year-old Margaret Angeline Linaker hops off a train and heads directly to divorce lawyer Norman Drake's office. Meanwhile, at the courthouse, Norman finishes a divorce trial, after which the head stenographer, Laura Carson, chides him for collecting bereaved wives' paychecks instead of urging them to seek reconciliation. Norman points to Judge Thomas Kneeland as evidence of his choices: reap high profits or, like the judge, seek reconciliation and never make any money. When Norman returns to his office, Maggie sneaks in ahead of a wealthy client and announces her determination to obtain a divorce from her parents, B. Frederick and Doris Linaker. Citing incompatibility as her grounds, Maggie offers Norman $3.27 as a retainer, and he eventually humors her by agreeing to represent her. His attempts to learn the location of her parents in order to call them are continually deflected by Maggie. Undaunted, Norman invites Laura to lunch with them, and although she scorns his inability to get the information from Maggie, the little girl stymies her, too. On the way to her office, Laura explains to Maggie that the women she sees throwing their rings into the river are performing a divorce ritual. Back at the law office, Norman's friend, reporter Serge Field, presses him for details about the "child bride" seeking a divorce, but Norman throws him out. He then receives a call from Laura, who has noticed a label in Maggie's jacket reading "Emeryville, CA." He quickly contacts the Linakers, who are horrified to hear that Maggie, who is supposed to be at a Nevada summer camp, got off the bus in Reno. Satisfied that they will arrive the next day, Norman takes Laura and Maggie to dinner that night. Laura is pleased when Maggie urges the adults to dance, but notes that all of Norman's ex-clients flirt with him. Later, at her house, Laura watches with delight as Norman puts Maggie to bed with a bedtime story, while he is impressed with her cooking. They later share their fear that they will miss the girl, and that she will feel betrayed when her parents arrive. Norman tells Laura that the night's domestic pleasures have made him see what he is missing, and they kiss. The next morning, Norman shows up with breakfast, ignoring Laura when she tells him she does not want him getting too comfortable in her home. Norman reads Maggie the newspaper story he has leaked to Serge, hoping that she will believe her parents came solely because of the article. Horrified, Maggie lies that her parents abuse her terribly, and Laura and Norman swear to keep her parents away. Soon after, the Linakers arrive at Norman's office and Norman berates them, until Laura calls to inform him that Maggie confessed to lying about the abuse. Laura brings Maggie to Norman's, but when the girl sees her parents, she races outside. As Doris cries, Laura runs after Maggie and finds her throwing a bracelet from her parents into the river. Norman learns from the Linakers that Doris is pregnant and decides that Maggie is jealous of the new baby. When he confronts her later at Laura's, however, Maggie informs him that he is wrong. Norman counters by declaring that he now represents her parents and, the next day, convinces Judge Kneeland to preside over a mock trial. After Maggie swears to tell the truth, she is forced to confess that she loves her parents. Norman presses her to confess why she wants a divorce, and she reveals that she heard Doris' sister say that Maggie is a burden because they do not have enough money for two children, and that she was adopted. Scared, Doris admits to Judge Kneeland that they found Maggie as an abandoned baby and never had the adoption legalized. Both parents then tell their daughter that her aunt fails to realize that their love for one another makes them rich, and the three embrace tearfully. Judge Kneeland instructs Norman to have the adoption legalized, and the Linakers accompany Norman and Laura to the river to recover Maggie's bracelet. As they say goodbye, Laura tells Norman she will search the rest of her life to find another Maggie, and he suggests that they marry in order to adopt.