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Friendly Neighbors

Friendly Neighbors(1940)

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After a drought renders their farm worthless, Abner Weaver, his wife Elviry, daughter Violey and brother Cicero move West in search of a new life. Along the way they meet a group of tramps, who take them to their camp for a meal. The hobo congregation includes the Breeze Kid, a former law student; Doc, who was a brilliant surgeon; and Notes, a once renowned songwriter. Breeze explains to the Weavers that the tramps are decent men whose troubles have forced them from the mainstream of civilization. Their music-filled gathering is interrupted, however, when wealthy merchant Silas Barton brings the police from nearby Riverview and accuses Notes of theft. Everyone protests that Notes has not left the camp, but Barton's meanspiritedness soon starts a huge brawl. The Weavers' possessions are lost in a fire started by the police, and they beat a hasty retreat with Breeze and Doc. The band of travelers walks to Williamsville, a once prosperous town that has been deserted due to flooding. They are taken in by the kindly jailer, Bumblebee Hibbs, and the next morning, Nancy Williams takes them home for breakfast. Nancy is the granddaughter of Martha Williams, the town's founder whose blindness has prevented her from seeing the rundown condition of her beloved town. Nancy does not tell her grandmother of the present conditions, instead letting her believe that Williamsville maintains its former glory. The Williams let the Weavers, Breeze and Doc hide at their home for a week until Barton's warrant against them expires. As the week passes, Nancy and Breeze fall in love, Doc determines that surgery can restore Martha's eyesight, and the Weavers discover that a levee could be built to save the town from flooding. They need to get the governor's approval, however, and to do so they scheme to have him become indebted to them. Cicero disguises himself as a highway bandit and holds up the governor's car, then the other Weavers pretend to rescue him. The grateful governor agrees to tour their town, and if it is prosperous and deserving, he will approve the levee plans. Doc and Breeze send out the word to other hoboes, and while Martha recuperates from her successful eye surgery, the Weavers and the hoboes rebuild the town. They obtain clothes, cars, groceries and musical instruments from Barton's credit stores despite his protests, and soon they welcome the governor in a big celebration. The governor is impressed and readily agrees to build the levee until Barton bursts in and denounces the tramps. The governor leaves in a huff, but Martha urges the hoboes to stay and build a real life for themselves. They all agree and the Weavers rush after the governor. They tell him what good publicity it will be for him to have redeemed so many wanderers, and the governor, who at last recognizes Cicero, laughingly agrees to help them. Soon the levee is built, the town's new inhabitants are happily settled in, and Cicero is the best man at Breeze and Nancy's wedding.