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True to Life

True to Life(1943)

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Highly paid New York radio writers Link Ferris and Fletcher Marvin are about to lose their jobs because the popularity of their melodrama "Kitty Farmer" has declined. Mr. Huggins, president of Sudsy Suds, the company that sponsors the show, insists that they need to make "Kitty" more human. Desperate for inspiration, Link takes to the streets to meet "real" women. After approaching several strangers, Link is thrown off the subway in Sunnyside, and takes shelter from the pouring rain under a diner's overhang. Link is drawn inside by waitress Bonnie Porter's singing, and, believing that he is destitute, Bonnie gives him a free meal. When Bonnie spouts her cheerful philosophy on life and gives Link a brief outline of her family, he realizes that she is the embodiment of "Kitty." Although Link tries to assure her that he is well-situated, Bonnie continues to believe that he is homeless and jobless, and takes him home as a boarder. There, Link meets her charmingly idiosyncratic family: her father, who works at the bakery by day, and is a bumbling inventor at home; her younger brother Clem, who enthusiastically dreams of being a doctor; her younger sister Twips, who immediately becomes infatuated with Link; her cantankerous uncle Jake; and her strong-willed mother, who is suspicious of the apparently shiftless Link. Now a resident with the Porter family, whom he entertains by singing and playing the piano, Link pretends to look for work during the day, but is actually reporting to Fletcher, who writes the script for the new show based on the information Link gives him. During the show's first airing, Link goes to exaggerated efforts to prevent the Porters from listening to it, fearing they will recognize themselves in the characters. Fletcher suspects that Link is falling in love with Bonnie, and decides to spice up the radio show by introducing himself as a new character. One evening, he appears at the Porter home in a tuxedo and top hat, claiming to need the phone for an emergency call. No one is more astonished than Link, who that day rejected Mom Porter's suggestion that he take a job at the bakery. Fletcher's appearance only reinforces Mom Porter's idea that Link should work at the bakery, and the next morning, he rises at five o'clock and starts hauling huge sacks of flour. After Fletcher sends Bonnie several hundred flowers, Link tries to call off the ruse for fear of hurting the Porters. Fletcher is inspired to pay the bakery enough money to give Pop Porter a raise for two years, and Link agrees to stay on at the Porters' for another two weeks. Fletcher takes Bonnie out on a date, and not long after, she is surprised to hear the exact words she spoke on her date on the air during the Kitty Farmer show. That night, Bonnie takes Link on a mysterious date, unwittingly leading him to his own apartment, where she hopes to influence Fletcher to get Link a job singing on the radio. Link and Fletcher, now romantic rivals, are clearly hostile to each other, but Link wins Bonnie over with a love song. Later that night, they confess their love, but their happiness is spoiled when they get home, and Jake introduces them to his lawyer, Mammal. Jake announces that he has learned of Link and Fletcher's ruse, and plans to sue Sudsy Suds in a $100,000 libel suit. Although Link tries to assure the family that he had no intention of hurting them, the Porters feel humiliated and insist that he leave. Huggins refrains from firing the writers after Fletcher proposes that they go on the air and reveal that the "Farmers" are based on a "true-to-life" family. Link agrees to the idea only because it will help the Porters win their case. After the broadcast, the Porters are besieged by reporters, and their home becomes a tourist attraction. However, Bonnie becomes disgusted by the way her family is capitalizing on their sudden popularity and moves out, accusing the family of turning their home into a freak show. Pop Porter realizes that rather than being hurt by the radio show, their family has benefited, and he fires Mammal, who was planning to increase the damages to $1,000,000. Realizing that Bonnie is in love with either Link or Fletcher, Pop Porter arranges for the three to meet at the house one evening. Unknown to them, the dining room where they meet is wired with a microphone, and their conversation is broadcast as the final episode of the Farmer Family radio show. After bickering for several minutes, Bonnie and Link finally reconcile, and Fletcher rejoices over his narrow escape from marriage.