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The Black Orchid

The Black Orchid(1959)

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After her husband Tony is murdered by gangsters for his role in a bank robbery, Rose Bianco, having emigrated from Italy to marry Tony, recalls their wedding day, when she danced gaily with him and told him about the beautiful house she wanted. Now widowed, Rose takes a job making imitation flowers to support herself. One evening, while wrapping flower stems at home, Rose is interrupted by her nosy neighbor, Giulia Gallo. Giulia invites Rose over to meet Frank Valente, a widowed family friend who has become enamored of Rose and comments that because of her mourning attire, she reminds him of black orchids. Distraught over her son Ralphie, who was caught robbing parking meters and placed in a state work farm, a bitter and withdrawn Rose rejects Giulia's invitation. Frank, whose daughter Mary is preparing to marry and move to Atlantic City, is undeterred and begins speaking to her as she works on her back porch, but Rose ignores him. Later that night, Frank brings her some food from Giulia and asks to accompany her when she goes to visit her son on Sunday. During Rose's visit to the work farm, an official named Harmon warns Rose that if Ralphie attempts to run away again, he will be sent to a reform school. While Frank waits outside, Ralphie makes Rose cry by saying that he hates the work farm and implying that she is responsible for his unhappy situation and his father's death. The following weekend, Frank takes Mary to a surprise wedding shower given by her friend Alma Gallo, after which he meets Rose for ice cream. Frank tells Rose that after Mary's birth, his wife became mentally ill, then later died. Next, he mentions that he would like to buy a little house near his business in Somerville and asks her to marry him. To his great surprise and joy, Rose accepts, but Mary, who is worried about her father marrying a gangster's widow, rushes home and confronts him, whereupon Frank assures Mary that nothing can threaten his love for Rose. At the work farm, Frank takes a walk with Ralphie and asks for his mother's hand in marriage. Ralphie is pleased at the news, and overjoyed upon learning that he will be allowed to live with the couple. Although Mary and her fiancé Noble have plans to live in Atlantic City, Mary insists that they move in with Frank, as she believes that it was his loneliness that drove him to seek out Rose. Exasperated, Noble sends Mary home, where she finds Frank and Rose kissing. In a fit of pique, Mary locks herself in her room for several days, just as her mother had done. Insisting that Frank stay with his daughter, Rose breaks off their engagement. Later, Rose learns that Ralphie has again escaped from the work farm. On Sunday, Frank goes to church to pray for Mary and Ralphie, while Mary decides to stay home to wait for Noble's call. During mass, Ralphie enters the church and is surprised to learn that Frank's problems, not Rose's, have ended their engagement. Meanwhile, Rose visits Mary and, admitting that her greed led to her husband's demise, begs her to allow Frank some happiness. Eventually, Mary relents and invites her to stay for coffee. Soon, they begin cooking breakfast, and when Frank enters the kitchen, he is thrilled to see them getting along. He informs Rose that he returned Ralphie to the state farm and talked Harmon out of sending him to reform school. When Noble enters, the two couples sit down to breakfast. Sometime later, Frank and Rose fetch Ralphie from the work farm, and the three set out for their new home.