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Johnny Dark

Johnny Dark(1954)

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At Fielding Motors, engineer Johnny Dark and his best friend, Duke Benson, test drive a new sedan and afterward are horrified to discover that chief engineer William H. "Scotty" Scott has heard them complaining about the sluggish car over the intercom. Upon returning to the office, they spot a pretty new employee in the design shop, whom Scotty introduces as Liz Kent. In reality, Liz is company owner James Fielding's granddaughter, and he has only grudgingly allowed her to work in the plant. In Johnny's office, Scotty spies the engineer's secret plans for a racy new sports car, and reminds Johnny that Fielding believes only in family cars. Scotty is then called in to Fielding's office, where stockholder E. J. Winston is threatening to take over the company if Fielding does not offer updated products. When Scotty immediately announces the company's intention to develop a sports car, a shocked Fielding plays along, inviting Johnny into present his plans. He then names Johnny head of the development team, but later reveals to Scotty that the car is merely a decoy, to give him enough time to think of a new way to defeat Winston. Scotty, who recognizes the genius of the car's plans, does not inform Johnny of this, hoping the finished product will change Fielding's mind. Johnny and Duke get to work building the car, and although Johnny is at first disappointed that the inexperienced Liz is the designer assigned to him, he soon changes his mind when he sees her fresh ideas, and both he and Duke grow to appreciate her other assets, as well. One night Duke asks her to go dancing, and they invite Johnny along. By the end of the night, Johnny divulges to Liz that he has known her real identity all along, and Duke watches dejectedly as they kiss. Weeks later, after the handsome car is finished, the team is eager to enter it in a local race. They cannot secure official company approval, but after the headstrong Duke is fired for test driving too aggressively, he offers to enter the race over Fielding's objections. At the race, Johnny watches with trepidation as Duke drives the car at its maximum speed, and after the car flips over, he refuses to believe Duke's claim that the crash was due to faulty steering. Liz chastises Johnny for caring more about the car than his friend and rushes to Duke's side. Days later, Johnny finally returns to the shop to discover that Duke was right about the defective steering, and apologizing, joins the crew in re-designing the car. They decide to enter the car secretly in the country's most prominent race, which runs from Canada to Mexico. Duke, still angry with Johnny, has been hired to drive the new Thunderbird, so Johnny, a less practiced driver, prepares to helm his car. The race begins and Duke quickly pulls into first place. Meanwhile, Fielding discovers the car is in the race and berates Scotty, who, with the help of Fielding's secretary, Abbie Binns, challenges him to a bet on the outcome. By the first night's stop in Reno, Johnny is in third place but has a broken oil pan. Johnny insists on staying up all night to fix it, prompting Liz once again to accuse him of obsessiveness. Duke finds her in the casino and gently points out that her fury only reveals how much she loves Johnny. The next day, as Johnny takes second place, even Fielding begins to root for him, but before the end of the night, Johnny's tired co-driver causes an accident and they must push the car into Las Vegas. This time the necessary repairs are too great to undertake on their small budget, and Johnny gives up. Fielding, however, hears a radio announcer accusing him of not supporting his car, and with great fanfare sends Scotty with a team of mechanics. Johnny is soothing Liz's tears when Scotty arrives, and they all work the night through. On the last, grueling day of the race, Johnny starts out in fourth place but soon powers into second, right behind Duke. At the last moment, he pulls past the Thunderbird to claim first place. At the finish line, Duke congratulates Johnny, hops into the car and rides to the victory celebration with Johnny and Liz.