Short summary - The Fourth Vertebra, or a Scamp Despite Himself (Neljäs nikama eli Veijari vastoin tahtoaan)
Jeremiah, a resident of a small Finnish town, after graduating from university, studies literature and languages, being supported by his father. He does not think about marriage yet and gets a job as a journalist in a newspaper.
Soon, the law professor opens his newspaper The Truthful Word and appoints Jeremiah as editor-in-chief. The newspaper, exposing everyone, quickly gains popularity, Jeremiah becomes famous, but many are unhappy. Jerimia spends several months in prison.
After leaving prison, Jerimia meets an American physiotherapist, massage therapist Isaac Rivers, who persuades him to move to America, promising that he will be able to speak the truth freely there. Believing, Yerimia leaves the newspaper and, having changed his name to Jerry Finn, leaves for America.
Rivers brings Jerry to his house. For a salary, he must run the household and take care of the advertising of the future enterprise. For each patient, Jerry will receive a supplement. Along the way, Rivers will teach Jerry physical therapy. After walking around New York, Jerry realizes that customs in America are different from those of quiet Finland.
To attract elusive patients, Rivers has Jerry give a speech touting him as a doctor. Soon the number of patients at Dr. Rivers increases dramatically, and he raises the fee. To cater to everyone, Rivers accepts men and Jerry women.
One day, Jerry is approached by an 82-year-old woman, Mrs. Agnes Lawson. She is married for the fifth time, her twenty-six-year-old husband is cold to her, and she asks Jerry to examine his spine. Mrs. Lawson gives Jerry a very large sum in advance.
Jerry meets with Mr. Lawson alone, but he doesn't even want to hear about his wife, and a fight breaks out between the men. Rivers saves Jerry, outraged that he should accept men. Jerry, having received a large sum, vows never to interfere in family relationships.
A woman knows the meaning of love, and a man knows its price.
The gynecologist Dr. Popkin addresses the companions. His friend Dr. Hinsei is writing a book about women's sexual behavior, so the doctor invites his companions to ask the patients some questions. His patient, Mrs. Lawson, recommended him to see them.
Simple Jerry decides to try, but some of his patients, outraged by intimate issues, leave and complain. Rivers advises stopping the survey.
Women must be treated with care. Each of them wants to know how other women live, but none of them wants to expose themselves.
Jerry is visited by an attractive young widow, Mrs. Lawford. The woman asks him to come to her house.
Jerry learns that Dr. Popkin is giving a speech denouncing Dr. Hinsei's book. Dr. Popkin calls on women to be free from men. It is revealed that Dr. Hinsei sponsored Dr. Popkin's speech himself. Now people will learn about the book and be interested in it.
Enchanted, Jerry massages Mrs. Lawford, who screams in pain. Suddenly, Charles Lawson enters the room, accompanied by neighbors, posing as Mrs. Lawford's brother and accusing Jerry of raping his sister. He demands that Jerry either pay the money or marry her. Jerry neutralizes Charles with a hammer blow on the nerve endings, but the woman asks to save her honor in front of the neighbors.
Jerry tries to explain to the arriving policeman that he is a massage therapist, and only tests his reflexes with a hammer. The cop grabs his holster, but Jerry neutralizes him too. Mrs. Lawford is delighted and soon she and Jerry get married. Isaac is skeptical about Jerry's marriage, but promises to take him back in case of failure.
On the first evening of their married life, despite kissing his wife, Jerry struggles with hunger. Joan demands that he take out life insurance, as both of her previous husbands died in an accident. She cries when she finds out that her husband is neither a doctor nor a rich man, but takes almost all of his money. Joan also admits that she has three children born out of wedlock.
Joan is busy reading and doesn't have time to cook. Jerry goes to have lunch at a cafe. After ordering cheap food, Jerry returns to work. There, Isaac beats Dr. Popkin, Due to the fact that the gynecologist scares away the entire female clientele. Jerry refuses to continue questioning the women and kicks Dr. Popkin out.
Charles gets a divorce and moves in with Joan. They require Jerry to shop. And if he has no money, then let him take a loan.
Only street women demand cash payment...
At gunpoint from Charles, Jerry insures his life for a large sum.
Isaac warns a friend that Joan's previous husbands did not die of natural causes, having previously insured their lives for a large sum.
Joan presents her husband with the first insurance premium in six months, which exceeds his annual income. Jerry announces that he is going to cancel the insurance. Joan, trying to hold on to her departing husband, falls and injures her back.
Putting his wife, who previously brought the marathon and even forced her husband to shave her legs, in a wheelchair, Jerry takes her to the doctors. But everyone has their own specialization, and the doctor who treats the back takes too much. It is impossible to take Joan to the hospital, since each hospital belongs to a certain society. A passerby on the street advises you to contact Dr. Rivers and his assistant Jerry Finn.
After examining his wife, Jerry comes to the conclusion that her fourth vertebra is damaged. Having done the necessary procedures, Jerry announces a divorce and wants to leave. Charles tries to force him to stop, Joan cries, assuring that she loves him, but Jerry ties up his wife, hits Charles on the head with a hammer and returns to Rivers.
Rivers lost patients because of Jerry's marriage. He gives the companion a calculation.
Jerry is wanted by the police, but he still comes to Joan. Learning that her husband is now unemployed, Joan is delighted, because now he will be with her all the time. And the problem with money will be solved by Charles, who sells drugs to children who do not want to go to school. Charles can take Jerry to his job.
Jerry tells Joan that he will steal the car and they will drive away together. Jerry leaves, and Joan, delighted with the plan, packs her things. At this time, a beaten Jerry Charles returns home and tells his sister that Jerry asked him to take care of his sister, since he himself flies to the moon.
Jerry rides the subway car all night until they drop him off. There, he forgets his suitcase and discovers that his wallet has been pulled out of his pocket. Jerry ends up in Harlem. The owner of a cafe, learning that Jerry is a doctor, offers him to treat his back for lunch.
Jerry meets the German psychology professor Mr. Boris Minvengen, Bobo, who left his wife, who buried two husbands in the past. There is a week of laughter in the country and Mr. Minvengenom lectures Jerry on what and how people laugh. Bobo takes Jerry to a Harlem bunkhouse, where Jerry remembers Joan.
The rooming house is inhabited by a former professor of literary criticism, a writer and an actor. Because of the week of laughter, the assistance committee gives out free buns and the homeless can eat. Jerry's new friends trade either by stealing or begging, end up in prison, and he begins to think about returning to his wife.
Jerry, along with Bobo, goes on foot to Chicago to choose the king of the tramps. Friends hitchhike and walk, eat whatever they can, work odd jobs - Jerry even massages the fourth vertebra - and sleep wherever they can.
With the onset of cold weather, new problems arise, but friends are offered to work in a free education school. On the way, they meet a group of school students who are carrying a portable toilet with a school teacher locked in it. The trustee of the school releases the teacher, who immediately quits.
Bob can't handle the students smoking, kissing, throwing tomatoes at him and tying him up in class. Jerry frees his friend and, using the school car, the friends escape. But it soon turns out that there is no engine in the car and the tank runs out of gas. On the road, they meet a woman who can only take one person and bring him to Chicago. After deliberation, Jerry leaves, hoping that Bob will arrive there soon.
On the way, the woman tries to start an affair with Jerry, but after being refused, she drops him off on the road. Jerry is left alone with no money and no friend.
In one of the bars, Jerry meets an insurance agent. Using the lessons of Bob's psychology, Jerry tells him a sentimental story of his life, listens to the agent and, having received money from him, arrives in Chicago by train.
Going to the toilet, Jerry closes the door and cannot open it. He makes a pipe out of toilet paper and plays it. His music is heard by Mr. Atkeson, director of a phonograph record company. The policeman also hears the sounds. With the help of his familiar burglar, he tries to open the door.
After releasing Jerry, Mr. Atkeson tries to find out what instrument he played, and the policeman wants to arrest Jerry for cultural disgrace in a public place. Mr. Atkeson pushes the policeman into the booth, from where the burglar frees him for money, and he himself offers Jerry a job.
Mr. Etekson brings Jerry to the studio, records a record and writes a check for a huge amount. Jerry's Finnish folk melodies are popular, especially one called "The Fourth Vertebra".
Fame comes to Jerry and many large companies advertise his name. But soon the glory passes and the demand for records falls. With a huge fortune, Jerry decides to travel, but first he wants to find Bob and Joan. He arrives in New York, where he is found by representatives of a large bank and offered to invest money on favorable terms.
Bob is still a drifter and Jerry hands him a large check, while Joan asks for a divorce because she met a millionaire. She also reports that Charlie is in jail.
Jerry is found by the FBI and informed that he is bankrupt - the bank where he invested money does not exist. Left without a penny, Jerry returns to Isaac Rivers, who informs that Jerry has been awarded an order for promoting Finnish music.