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To Please a Lady

To Please a Lady(1950)

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Regina Forbes, a glib syndicated columnist known for her hard-hitting exposes and tantalizing high society gossip, is determined to write a profile on midget race car driver Mike Brannan. Mike, a former Marine, is despised by racecar driving fans because of his ruthless and dangerous tactics on the racetrack. After watching a televised broadcast of a midget race and a television interview with Mike, Regina goes to the race track to see Mike in person. She meets Mike just before his next race, but Mike shows little interest in Regina's story and the prospect of nationwide publicity. During the race, Mike displays the dirty tricks that made him famous, causing accidents and forcing other cars off the track at crucial moments. Mike wins the race but Joe Youghal, the driver of one of the cars he caused to crash, dies. Afterward, Regina asks Mike to explain the death of Youghal and another driver he forced off the track in an earlier race, but Mike dismisses both deaths as part of the profession and shows little remorse. Regina writes a scathing piece on the incident, and the following day, when her column appears in the newspapers, racetrack operators everywhere begin to worry that the bad publicity will mean the end of the races. To protect themselves, the owners ostracize Mike and bar him from future races. After being rejected at one speedway after another, Mike tries to race under an alias but is exposed by a local newspaper in the town of Bainsville. Mike becomes furious at Regina, whom he calls an "inky-fingered dame," for ruining his career, and is left with no alternative but to sell his race car and find a new line of work. Regina, meanwhile, has moved on to other stories, and is now publicizing the activities of Dwight Barrington, who is involved in a fraudulent pension insurance scheme. One day, Regina's manager, Gregg, tells her that Mike is now working as a "thrill driver" at a circus, performing crashes and other stunts. Her curiosity piqued, Regina attends one of the shows and learns that Mike is planning a comeback. After the show, Mike warns Regina to leave him alone, strikes her across the face and then plants a forceful kiss on her. Regina, however, maintains her unflappable composure throughout her encounter with Mike. She also begins to realize that she is in love with him. Just before his comeback race at the Greengrove racetrack, Mike "walks the track" to get a feel for it and finds Regina there waiting for him. As they stroll along the track, Regina breaks a heel, and Mike carries her to her car. Mike comes in second place in the race, but takes first prize in several subsequent races. At the end of the racing season, Mike telephones Regina and tells her that he wants to see her in New York. A romantic evening at a nightclub ends in a quarrel, however, when Regina brings up the topic of the drivers he ran off the track. Unimpressed by Mike's response to her questions, Regina decides to put an end to their romance. They part ways, and Mike prepares for his next big race. Regina watches part of the race on television but turns off her set before it ends, certain that Mike has won it. Immediately following the race, Mike goes to Regina's apartment and they rekindle their affair. The evening is spoiled, however, when Regina receives word that Barrington, who had been sentenced to twenty-five years in prison as a result of her story, has committed suicide. When Regina tells Mike that she feels responsible for Barrington's death, Mike tries to comfort her by telling her that she was only doing her job, just as he did when he drove aggressively on the racetrack. Regina disagrees with Mike's perspective, and they again part with bad feelings. A short time later, though, Regina tries to patch things up and shows up at Mike's big race at Indianapolis. During the race, Mike allows another car to pass him without incident, but the maneuver causes his car to spin out of control and flip. Mike is rushed to the hospital but his injuries are found to be minor. Regina, who is proud of his performance on the track, is now certain that he is the right man for her.