The Stork Club (1945)
A hat-check girl at the Stork Club (Hutton) saves the life of a drowning man (Fitzgerald). A rich man, he decides to repay her by anonymously giving her a bank account, a luxury apartment and a charge account at a department store. When her boyfriend (DeFore) returns from overseas, he thinks she is a kept woman.
An old man despondent over his failing marriage accidently falls from a dock. Judy, a hat-check girl at New York's famous Stork Club, saves him from drowning. Unknown to her, Jerry Bates (the old fellow) is rich. In gratitude he anonymously provides for her financially. Yes, it changes her life--and not all for the best. Jealous over the unknown benefactor, Judy's boyfriend dumps her. This not only puts a crimp in her love life but sidetracks her aspirations for a singing career as well. Can the old man's marriage be saved? Will bubbly, animated Judy get back her fellow?
- Jerry Bates "Pop"(Barry Fitzgerald) is strolling by a river in a sunny but sad day. The wind blows and his hat flies out of his head. Trying to catch it, Jerry falls to a river and Judy Peabody (Betty Hutton) goes to his rescue. When she rescues him, he is wet and messy, so she thinks he's a tramp and offers him a job at the Stork Club, where she works as a hat lady. Judy also sings and dances. In the club there is the typical assorment of army and navy figures who want to dance with her, and also some high-class gentlemen and ladies.
Judy is late again because of the even with Pop, but her boss Sherman Billingsley (Bill Goodwin) doesn't fire her, giving her a last opportunity, as she is an example for the rest of the girls. Pop talks to his lawyer, Tom P. Curtis (Andy Russell) and wants to help her anonymously. Curtis will do the paperwork in secret. Meanwhile, Judy convinces the maitre d', Mr Coretti (Mikhail Rasumny) to give Pop a job. However, Pop throws a tray full of cups to the floor after having mistreated some customers, and he's fired.
Judy receives notice of her open account at Macy's. The first thing she does - in spite of Pop's desperation - is to buy Pop a gentleman's outfit so that he will be able to find another job. She also buys herslef a mink coat, supposedly the dream of every working girl at that time. Everything is in order, and all items are charged onto her mysterious new account. She and Gwen (Iris Adrian), Judy's best friend, have the time of their lives buying all the outfits at a private haute-couture catwalk.
Jenny, Judy and Gwen wonder at Judy's new-found luck, and are even a bit jealous. Pop tells Judy that his wife left him. Judy wants to know who the "wolf" is, so she takes the apartment and everything else. She is confident that her boyfriend Danny Wilton (Don DeFore)- away with the navy at the Pacific - will not find out what's going on. The most plausible reason for her is that there is a mistake - and she tells so to her friend Gwen-: there must be another girl called Judy Peabody who is supposed to get all the money and the gifts. Judy also intends to support Pop until he's back onto his own feet again.
Danny arrives at her new apartment by surprise. They kiss. Danny says he has already found a job and that he must move fast but Judy offers him a job at the Stork Club. Suddenly, Danny realises how luxurious Judy's dress is. He thinks that she's the lover of Pop, who in exchange is paying for everything. First, Judy invents some uncle's temporary inheritance, but Danny doesn't believe it. He leaves in anger.
Pop watches all that scene, and says he's sorry. Judy thinks her benefactor is Billingsley, whom she has asked a job from on Danny's behalf. Sherman calls her to ask her not to have more surprise visits - Pop, Danny... She thought that he's going to make some advance on her which never happens. However, Danny finds some more evidence to think that Sherman Billingsley is the one paying to be Judy's lover. Judy only feels that she loves Danny stronger. Danny accepts the job because he has to, so he is the director of the band.
Judy phones the lawyer to talk to him. The lawyer refuses to give Judy any information. However, Pop eventually realises that he's only making life difficult for Judy, but he doesn't tell Judy the truth. Judy hugs him and Danny watches her: Danny is even more jealous of Pop. Judy becomes the new singer of the band, but they are without a job in two weeks. Danny doesn't know that Judy has called up Sherman pretending to be somebody else. Sherman attends, - although he knows it was Judy's voice- he likes the band, but he's more interested in Judy. Danny refuses to accept the deal because of how it was singed - through Judy's.
Judy confronts Sherman, and he says that he doesn't know anything about the letter. Sherman Billingsley is a married man, and hasn't ever gone too far with anybody else. Sherman talks to Danny, so he is a bit open to her words. But then the maitre d' arrives and Danny is angry with her again, leaving her.
Mrs Catherine Craig (Louella Parsons) appears crying because she's lost her husband. Judy realises now that Pop is rich, so hes' her benefactor. They will all meet at the Stork Club, where else can it be?, to teach him a lesson. Now Pop thinks that he's lost his wife, and Judy repeats to him the same words he'd said to her concerning the loss of Danny. Judy tells Danny the truth, but he doesn't believe him.
At the Stork Club, Judy makes Pop soft so that he be eager to return to Catherine. Pop and Catherine reconcile dancing to a waltz directed by Danny, who played because he read a not written by Sherman. Danny confronts Curtis, who says that it's Pop who wrote the first letter. As Danny was told the truth and didn't believe her the first time, Judy makes up a nonsense story about a body mark in shape of a strawberry and the gold rush. He believes her now.
Judy says that her happiness will come from singing with the band and being poor, but Pop offers a million dollars to get them started. Judy hugs Pop.