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Smuggled Cargo

Smuggled Cargo(1939)

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When a sudden cold snap hits the Imperial Valley in California, orange growers fear that frost will kill their crops. Orange Growers Association president John Clayton assures his fellow farmers that he will help them obtain the oil needed to keep warming fires burning. Clayton sends his racecar driver son Gerry and Gerry's mechanic, Professor, to get the oil. Gerry's tempermental car cannot make the long journey, however, and the pair appeal to nearby orange grower Masterson, a renegade who left the association after Clayton beat him in the election for its leadership. When Masterson tries to force Gerry to sell him the association's crops below market value in exchange for the fuel, Gerry and Professor lock him in the barn and steal the oil. Their car malfunctions as they race home, and they "borrow" the car of passing motorists C. P. Franklin and his daughter Marian. Unknown to Gerry, Franklin is the soft drink manufacturer whose substantial contracts for oranges have sparked a bitter war between Masterson and Franklin. Franklin and Marian are suspected of being the drivers of Gerry's speeding roadster and spend the night in jail. In the morning, Gerry becomes aware of Franklin's identity and rushes to the jail as Franklin is released, but to no avail, for he has earned Franklin's enmity. Masterson ingratiates himself into Franklin's good graces and is awarded the valuable contract, which means the association growers will be faced with bankruptcy. Masterson offers to buy the association's oranges for a low price, but Clayton refuses despite recriminations from his friends that he is ruining them. Meanwhile, Gerry grows suspicious of Masterson's deal with Franklin because the only way Masterson can meet Franklin's demand is to smuggle in oranges from outside California. Gerry and Professor discover a trainload of smuggled fruit, but Masterson's planted inspectors trick the duo into believing that the shipment will be stopped. Meanwhile, the growers put more pressure on Clayton, and he resigns, after which he makes a desperate plea to Masterson to buy their fruit at a fair price. When Masterson scorns him, Clayton threatens him with a gun, although he has no intention of harming him. Chris Hays, Masterson's crooked partner, shoots Masterson through a window, and Clayton is arrested for the murder. Gerry finds out about the trumped-up charge and also that Franklin bought the smuggled oranges, and he appeals to Franklin for help. Franklin goes to the jail with Gerry, where Hays has organized a mob to lynch Clayton. Franklin quiets the crowd by promising to buy their crops, and Hays is revealed as the killer when Dr. Hamilton points out that Clayton's gun does not match the caliber of the bullet that killed Masterson. After Clayton is reinstated, Franklin signs a five-year contract with the association and Gerry and Marian happily cuddle as they tow the broken-down racecar.