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The Show-Off

The Show-Off(1934)

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While sailing on an excursion boat, J. Aubrey Piper, a clerk at the Mid-Atlantic Railroad Company, saves a drunken passenger from drowning and impresses pretty Amy Fisher with his bravery. After the rescue, Aubrey overhears Amy tell the police the address of her father's Newark, New Jersey realty company, and later shows up there, posing as a wealthy, would-be home buyer. Although her no-nonsense parents take an immediate dislike to the loquacious braggart, who makes a practice of test driving new automobiles he has no means to buy, Amy quickly falls in love with him and accepts his proposal. After a modest wedding and honeymoon, Aubrey and Amy settle into their own apartment, which Aubrey, out of impestuous love for Amy, fills with luxury items they cannot afford. Eventually Aubrey's debt leads to the attachment of his salary and, out of desperation, Amy announces that she is returning to work. Amy then tells her stunned husband that they must move in with her parents until they have paid their debts. When Aubrey's initial anger passes, he realizes the wisdom of Amy's actions and vows to change his extravagant, thoughtless ways. For his first act as a "new man," Aubrey, whose laziness and irresponsibility have kept him from rising at the railroad company, goes to work early and impresses his office manager with his concentrated efforts. However, Aubrey falls into trouble with J. B. Preston, the railroad president when he corners Andrew Barnabas, a farmer whose land the railway is interested in buying, and, on his own authority, promises to purchase 900 more acres than the railroad needs. After an infuriated Preston fires him, Aubrey heads for an automobile dealership to test drive a new car. When he returns to his in-laws' home that night, Aubrey confesses to Amy and her parents that, not only was he fired, but was involved in a costly automobile accident as well. Undone, Amy tells her husband that she is separating from him until he "becomes a man" and makes good on his pledge to change. A sobered Aubrey then searches for work but secures only a temporary job as a sandwich board advertiser. While walking the street with his board, Aubrey runs into Amy's brother Joe, an aspiring young inventor. Joe tells Aubrey that he is on his way to a law firm to discuss a $5,000 offer for his new rust-preventing invention. Ever the know-it-all, Aubrey cannot resist the temptation to go to the law firm ahead of Joe and haggle with an attorney about the sale price of Joe's invention. After the lawyer dismisses Aubrey's demands that Joe be paid $100,000 and fifty percent of the invention's profits and angrily retracts his original offer, Aubrey returns home in shame. As Aubrey confesses his deed to Amy and her parents, however, Joe bursts in and announces that, because of the machinations of his "manager," the lawyer offered him $50,000 and twenty percent of the profits. Before his disapproving in-laws can absorb this unexpected development, Aubrey then receives a letter from Preston informing him that, because the land he forced the railroad company to buy turned out to be extremely profitable, he may return to the railway in a high-paying position. Fully vindicated, a wiser but still talkative Aubrey happily reunites with Amy.