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Top Secret Affair

Top Secret Affair(1957)

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Dorothy Peale, the third-generation owner of media conglomerate Peale Enterprises, is livid when she learns that her "Daddy's best friend" was not appointed chairman of her pet cause, the Joint Atomic International Commission, despite her efforts in using her social status and media power to promote him. Upon learning that the president instead chose war hero, Maj. Gen. Melville A. "Ironpants" Goodwin, she immediately sets out to discredit the soldier. Under the pretense of doing a profile cover story in the Peale publication News World Magazine , Dottie arranges with the chief of staff, Gen. Daniel A. Grimshaw, for Goodwin to spend the weekend at her Long Island estate for a personal interview. Expecting positive publicity for the Army, Grimshaw orders public information officer Col. Homer W. Gooch to accompany Goodwin. In preparation for Goodwin's visit, Dottie hides a tape recorder in her living room, while also displaying military flags and his portrait, hoping to gain his trust. She orders Lotzie, her Russian photographer, secretly to take compromising photos of Goodwin using special cameras. Meanwhile, her most trusted employee, Phil Bentley, researches Goodwin's background for incriminating stories, and finds, among other things, a history of girl friends that might suggest womanizing. Gooch and Sgt. Kruger arrive early to put boards under the mattress on which Goodwin will sleep and check out the environment. At the exact appointed time, the general marches in, unassuming, courteous and ready to begin. Bentley starts by asking a loaded question, which the alert Goodwin catches and answers on his own terms. During the questioning, he proves intelligent, competitive and commanding, but not the warlord Dottie has expected. Although he sees through Dottie's lie that his portrait has been hanging on her wall for years, he is too polite to contradict her. However, he does fall prey to one of her traps, a bongo board that she has displayed on a coffee table. The toy, which is operated by standing on a board balanced on a cylinder, appeals to his sporting nature, and he tries it out, gaining proficiency immediately. Although Dottie had hoped he would provide a photo opportunity by falling off, Goodwin maintains his balance, while continuing the interview. From the bongo board, he provides credible explanations for the incriminating rumors that Bentley collected. The next morning, following his daily exercises, he shows Dottie judo self-defense moves, but after the demonstration, she claims she would rather carry a gun. After three days, during which the reporters uncover nothing scandalous, Dottie decides to try an uncharacteristic, femme fatale approach, which she calls "night maneuvers." Although Goodwin senses that Dottie is looking for information other than the usual P.R. stories, he is pleased when she invites him for a "night on the town" alone with her. After careful pre-planning, she takes him to an expensive restaurant, where she plies him with drinks and "accidentally" pushes him onto a table while dancing. Although photographers hired by Dottie secretly snap photos of him at awkward moments, he remains sober and well-mannered throughout the evening. Later, Dottie takes Goodwin to a nightclub where she has arranged an "amateur night," and she maneuvers him into singing against his will for the crowd. Reluctantly, he stiffly sings "The Caissons Go Rolling Along," and afterward, feeling a fool, returns to Long Island without her. He is packing to leave when she catches up with him, a little ashamed and very intoxicated, and lures him out to her swimming pool. Pacing on the diving board in an evening dress, she tells him that she secretly desires to be married instead of being the "five star general" molded by her father. As she babbles, Goodwin removes his shoes and coat in preparation for her inevitable fall into the pool. Hours after he rescues her, she is sober and, while he fills her in on what she cannot remember, the situation turns passionate. The next morning, the love-besotted Dottie orders a "shift in the magazine's editorial policy" and makes plans for Goodwin to marry her and become President of the United States. However, Goodwin tells her that he plans to return to Washington alone. After explaining that the one person he loved turned out to be a spy to whom he gave military information and later had to execute, he says that, having been betrayed once, he can never marry. After he marches out of her life, she re-reverses her editorial policy and plans the cover story, "Blabbermouth Goodwin." In Washington, although Goodwin is congratulated for what is expected to be a favorable story, he appears glum and distracted. To Gooch, he confides that he made the wrong decision and then rushes to Dottie's doorstep to propose marriage. As a gift, knowing that she has everything, he presents her with a gun owned by Hermann Göring that he found in the course of his duty. Meanwhile, the magazine has hit the stands and prompts a Senate inquiry. With the investigation pending, Goodwin is denied permission to reveal classified information that would help his case. At the hearing run by an unsympathetic, publicity-seeking senator, Goodwin is not allowed to explain the context of the incriminating photographs. As for the women in his past, he is able to explain that "Miss Sutsiyama" was a seven-year-old war orphan he protected, but he refuses to explain an "Yvette de Fresney," to whom he is accused of giving military information. Dottie is subpoenaed to testify and, ashamed, admits that everything in the article was falsified. Publicly, she apologizes to Goodwin and resigns her post as editor, but she cannot deny the "Yvette" story. Just as the senators prepare to take further action, a high government official enters and announces that certain information has been declassified. Goodwin is then able to explain how, after discovering that Yvette, the woman he loved, was a spy, he was ordered to provide her with false information to confound the enemy. His reputation restored, Goodwin rescues Dottie from an angry mob that is harassing her and drives her away, intending to marry.