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Black Market Babies

Black Market Babies(1945)

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While testifying in court before District Attorney Hamilton, Dr. Henry Jordan admits that he ran the Dr. Jordan Maternity Manor with racketeer Eddie Condon, and that he was involved in the case for which crooked attorney Anthony Marsden is now serving ten years in prison. Jordan balks, however, when Hamilton presses him to confess that he killed Condon during a quarrel. Jordan states that he cannot remember what happened during the fight with Condon, and then tells the jury about his first meeting with Condon a year earlier: Jordan lies on the couch in his office, too drunk to answer a knock at the door. Condon bursts in and drags Jordan to the apartment of gangster Barney Kramer, for whom Jordan has been working for a year. Jordan sobers up as he removes a bullet from Barney's shoulder, and listens to Barney blame Condon for ruining their attempted bank robbery. Barney's attorney, Anthony Marsden, arrives, and is impressed with Condon's bravado, even though Barney fires him for not following orders. Condon arranges to meet with Marsden the following day, while at the same time, Condon's wife Doris welcomes her sister, Evelyn Barret, to their apartment. Evelyn, who is five months pregnant, asks to borrow some money until her husband is released from the Army, and Doris agrees and persuades Evelyn to stay with her. The next day, at Marsden's office, Condon and Marsden are discussing going into business together when Jordan arrives and asks for his help. A few months earlier, Jordan had delivered the illegitimate baby of a woman who insisted that she did not want the child. Jordan found a couple to adopt the baby, but when they gave him $500 for his help, Jordan passed only $100 to the mother. She has since found out and is now threatening to expose Jordan. Marsden assures the doctor that he can pressure the woman to sign a release, and the discussion prompts Condon to concoct a scheme to sell illegitimate babies. With Jordan's reluctant help, Condon and Marsden establish a maternity home for unwed mothers that does not follow the rigid adoption regulations required by state institutions. Because he allows older, previously divorced or otherwise "unsuitable" couples to adopt, Condon is soon making a fortune from the suggested "donations" the couples make to the home. Four months later, Condon is visited by Henry and Grace Andrews. They explain that they are interested in the baby of Helen Roberts, a young woman with whom their soldier son was involved before he was killed in action in Okinawa. They have been following Helen and know that she is to give birth at Jordan's facility. Condon extracts a $5,000 payment from them and assures them that they will get Helen's baby. Condon is thrilled at having sold the couple their own grandchild and throws a celebratory party. During the party, Evelyn goes into labor, and Jordan escorts her to the clinic. There, she gives birth to a healthy baby boy, but Helen, who has also gone into labor, delivers a stillborn daughter. Determined not to lose his hefty fee, Condon orders the horrified Jordan to switch the babies. Evelyn is overwhelmed with grief upon learning that her baby is dead, while Henry and Grace leave with the baby they believe is their grandson. A week passes as Evelyn, who is positive that she heard her baby cry, sinks deeper into depression, and Helen changes her mind about the adoption. When Condon refuses to return her baby, Helen goes to district attorney Hamilton for help, and based on prior complaints he has received about the clinic, Hamilton begins an investigation. The death certificate for Helen's daughter and the birth certificate for Evelyn's son are soon uncovered, and Hamilton arrests Condon and Jordan for switching the babies. Marsden gets them released on bail, however, and that night, Condon goes to Jordan's apartment. There, Condon threatens Jordan with a gun and orders him to write a confession taking responsibility for the switch. The doctor attempts to grab the gun, and during the ensuing struggle, Condon is shot and killed. Back in the courtroom, Jordan is found not guilty of Condon's murder, and although Evelyn and her husband thank him for returning their son to them, Hamilton assures his assistant that he will be able to convict Jordan of the baby switching.