Gaily, Gaily (1969) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil takes him under her wing, gives him a room in her high-class bordello, and gets him a job at a newspaper. He's so sweet and dumb, he thinks Lil's is a boarding house. He's soon caught up in an electoral struggle between a secretly corrupt reformer and an openly corrupt councilman. Can Ben expose corruption or will he be caught up in allure of power? An alcoholic investigative reporter and the bordello's ingénue try to help him grow up.

  • 1910. Young aspiring writer Ben Harvey is at the age where thoughts of the opposite sex overtake his everyday life. Believing these thoughts to be sin in his heart and against his moral upbringing, Ben, without telling anyone beforehand, decides to leave home and his small town of Galena, until he can clear this sin from himself and make a change for the better to the world. Where he ends up is Chicago. He is immediately fascinated and enthralled by the sights and sounds of the big city and all that he believes that has to offer, but he quickly learns of the bad that goes along with it, largely discovered through his naiveté. In a predicament, he finds a savior in a woman named Lil. He has no idea however that she is a madam, that her "family" of girls living with her are prostitutes, and that the house itself is a brothel, where she is letting him stay for free until he lands on his feet. Through his stay, he and one of the hookers, Adeline, fall in love. Lil helps him get a job at the Chicago Journal newspaper, working for her "friend" Francis Sullivan, a hard drinking reporter who goes to extreme, unusual and reckless measures to get the story, which he doesn't always get. Through his work with Sullivan, Ben begins to wisen to the ways of the big city. With this wisdom comes an eventual realization that even those good and pure things around him are not as he thought, and that corruption is all around. He begins his own process of how he can make the world a better place, which may not turn out exactly the way he imagined or wanted.



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