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Something Always Happens (1934)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Peter Middleton ends an all-night bridge game organised by his friend George. Billy stands in the courtyard below, watching the other children play together. When their parents call them for breakfast, Billy is left to fend for himself. Peter has lost all his money, has no job, debts all over London and nowhere to live, but he doesn't care. He is sure that he will be able to make some money right away.

Peter and Billy unsuccessfully try to get jobs. Billy is caught stealing apples and Peter intervenes when the fruit seller tries to beat the boy. Peter punches him and Billy leads him quickly away. Billy bursts in to tears when Peter says goodbye. Billy is on the run from the orphanage and has nowhere to stay. Peter takes pity on him and takes him to a rooming house. The landlady is initially suspicious of Peter, but is clearly taken with Billy. She asks for a week's rent in advance, but he is able to charm her into giving him a day to get the money.

Peter goes to meets a friend from the motor trade at a pub. He tells him that if he can find a new Bentley to sell to a rich customer, he will be able to make a large commission. He finds one in the street and tries to convince the chauffeur to get the owner to sell it to him. When Cynthia arrives, Peter thinks she is just a passer by and offers her a lift. Amused, Cynthia lets the chauffeur play along with the charade and he drives them to the Café de Paris restaurant. She asks the manager to pretend that he doesn't know who she is. Peter has several unpaid bills at the restaurant, but none the less orders a meal to make Cynthia happy, believing that she is a poor office girl. In fact she is the daughter of Benjamin Hatch, a rich industrialist. She realises that Peter wanted to treat her out of genuine kindness and he admits that the car isn't his and that he is broke. She suggests he go see Hatch about a job, but doesn't say that he is her father. Peter uses a subterfuge to get around paying the restaurant bills.

Hatch refuses to see Peter and sarcastically suggests that he go to the Blue Point Company, his competitors. Peter does so and quickly convinces them of the value of his plan to enhance their petrol stations and turn them into a series of Roadhouses that also serve food and offer recreational activities. Peter goes back to the restaurant and pays his bills. He offers Cynthia a job as his secretary. She only accepts after hearing that her father wouldn't listen to his ideas. Peter is now General Manager of the Blue Point project and Billy also takes a job there. George comes to ask for a loan. Peter instead offers him a job advertising the company's project.

Hatch starts to lose money to Blue Point and goes to see Peter. He is initially shocked when he learns that Cynthia is working there, but admires her independence, so agrees not to reveal who she really is. Hatch realises that Peter is now a serious threat. He increases his publicity and Peter reprimands George for not doing a better job. Peter discovers that a new bypass is going to be built and convinces Blue Point to buy sites along the proposed route. George sells the information to Hatch, who outbids Peter. When Peter hears of this, he realises he has been double-crossed. When he sees Hatch dropping off Cynthia at the office and giving her money, he accuses her of being the spy. She tells him Hatch is her father and leaves.

Peter learns that the bypass is not due to be built for another 15 years. He visits Hatch, and seeing George there realises who the real spy was. Hatch sells all his station to Peter, convinced that the bypass makes them nearly worthless. When he learns that Peter has bested him, he can't help admiring him. Peter goes to see Cynthia and the two are reconciled.