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I Love You Again (Powell and Loy, 1940) -- Unclear Plot Point


Old Film Lover
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I just watched the 1940 film I Love You Again with William Powell and Myrna Loy, and enjoyed it.  However, the ending for me was somewhat spoiled by what seems to be an incoherence in the plot.

**Spoiler Alert**

The subplot around the character "Herbert" (the guy who wants to marry Loy when her divorce is final) doesn't seem to add up.  He somehow knows about oil on one of Powell's properties, and apparently (it's not clear, but it seems implied by what Loy says as she is mailing the letter) wants Loy to stay married to Powell just long enough to grab her half (as wife) of any proceeds he makes from the oil deal.  But it's not clear from what Loy said whether he (Herbert) thinks it's real oil, or faked oil, on the property.  Indeed, Loy seems to think that the oil is real and that the local businessmen are trying to buy the property for a song and make a killing by developing the oil.  Is that what Herbert told her?  And if so, did he believe that, or was he just stringing her along, being secretly in on Edmund Lowe's gangster's fake oil machinations?  Later on, in the final scene, he shows up for the business meeting, but he wasn't in the scene where the meeting was arranged, so how did he know there was to be a meeting?  Did Edmund Lowe's gangster tell him about it?  Perhaps; Herbert appears to know the gangster, and there may be a suggestion that he was in on the faking of the oil find from the beginning, but it's not clear.  And when he mentions to Lowe that he (Herbert) had the foresight to have cashed a large check, and Lowe's eyes light up, I'm lost.  What check?  Who would have given Herbert a check, and for what?  And supposing he had been given a large check, why should he split the money with Lowe?  What did Lowe ever do for him?  It's all unclear to me.  The conversation between Lowe and Herbert appears to be a sort of deus ex machina, to cause Lowe's gangster to leave the scene contented, thus assuring us that Powell and Loy can now live happily ever after, but even a deus ex machina has to make sense, and this one doesn't.  It seems hard to imagine that in this era of great and intelligent screen plays the writer and director would not have noticed such a huge plot hole.  So I must be missing something in my understanding of the story -- or else there were some scenes between Herbert and Lowe that were cut out of the final version of the film.   Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

 

 

 

 

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On 4/23/2022 at 2:35 AM, Old Film Lover said:

 And when he mentions to Lowe that he (Herbert) had the foresight to have cashed a large check, and Lowe's eyes light up, I'm lost.  What check?  Who would have given Herbert a check, and for what?  

 

I can not address some of what you asked because it has been some while since I have watched the movie and did not notice the points which you mention.

I do know that many banks prefer to cash a check which the customer writes for cash rather than to process a withdrawal. The cashier needs to generate only one slip of paper when cashing a check. The cashier needs to generate at least four slips of paper and authenticate the identification of the customer when processing a withdrawal. 

It is safer for the bank also because a customer could claim they signed a blank withdrawal slip or that the paperwork was later altered to reflect a higher amount. A check contains all of the information in the customer's handwriting.

Herbert believed he would want a large amount of cash. He went to the bank and wrote a check for cash. The bank cashed it. 

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Thanks, Sansfin, for taking the time to try to come up with an answer.

Assuming for the sake of argument that Herbert did what you said, how would it benefit him?  If he wrote a check for cash, that would become a debit on his account, and his account balance would drop by however many thousand dollars the check was for.  So while he would have cash in hand, his bank account loss would cancel out the gain, and he'd be no further ahead.  Of course, if with the cash, he bought something that was a good investment (presumably from a seller who would take only cash), that would put him ahead in the long run, but what was he planning to buy?  It wouldn't make sense for him to buy the land that allegedly had oil on it, presuming he was in on the secret that the oil strike was faked.  Why would he pay a high cash price for land that had no mineral wealth and was not a good investment?  So what was he planning to do with the cash?  I get the sense either that a subplot (involving deals Herbert was cutting with one or more of the other players) was cut out, leaving a loose end, or that the writers were not thinking straight.  Anyhow, if you ever do get around to watching it again, and have further thoughts, I'd be glad to hear anything you can come up with.

 

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1 hour ago, Old Film Lover said:

Thanks, Sansfin, for taking the time to try to come up with an answer.

Assuming for the sake of argument that Herbert did what you said, how would it benefit him?  If he wrote a check for cash, that would become a debit on his account, and his account balance would drop by however many thousand dollars the check was for.  So while he would have cash in hand, his bank account loss would cancel out the gain, and he'd be no further ahead.  Of course, if with the cash, he bought something that was a good investment (presumably from a seller who would take only cash), that would put him ahead in the long run, but what was he planning to buy?  It wouldn't make sense for him to buy the land that allegedly had oil on it, presuming he was in on the secret that the oil strike was faked.  Why would he pay a high cash price for land that had no mineral wealth and was not a good investment?  So what was he planning to do with the cash?  I get the sense either that a subplot (involving deals Herbert was cutting with one or more of the other players) was cut out, leaving a loose end, or that the writers were not thinking straight.  Anyhow, if you ever do get around to watching it again, and have further thoughts, I'd be glad to hear anything you can come up with.

 

 

There are three possibilities: 1) He did not know that it was a con, 2) He did know that it was a con and 3) He was in on the con.

1) He wanted cash to buy what he believed to be oil-rich land. Having cash is of great benefit when making fast deals because it does not require the seller to trust that a check is good. Sellers will often take slightly less if it means the deal is done and over and they can move on rather than having to wait for a check to clear and/or seeking redress if the check is bad.

2) He wanted cash because he knew that there would be a bidding war which he could not win. He expected to wait until one of the others had reached the limit of their available funds and he could then offer them his cash as a short-term loan so that they could continue bidding. Handing over his cash in exchange for a check dated a week in the future would give the bidder time to liquidate some assets so that the check could be covered. The check would naturally be for the amount of the loan plus ten percent. He could collect this profit even if the con was uncovered because he had made a straight loan to an individual and could not be held responsible for what the debtor did with the money lent to them.

3) He wanted cash because the sight of large amounts of cash creates a sense of immediacy and urgency in the marks. This is standard practice of shills in a con. The marks feel they must offer substantially more because they can pay only by check. Any money which the shill gives the operator of the con is later returned along with a percentage of the increased profit. 

 

 

 

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