In this adaptation of Edgar Selwyn's play The Mirage a poor worker goes to New York and finds a wealthy lawyer, who will not marry her.
Cement-worker Al Manning (Wallace Ford) wants to marry factory-worker Marian (Joan Crawford); but wanting a better life, she turns him down. A rich man on a train gives her champagne and his address in New York. Tipsy, she argues with Al and then goes to New York, where the man turns her out. She manages to meet the wealthy lawyer Mark Whitney (Clark Gable). She says she is looking for a rich man, and he invites her dinner.
Three years later Marian is ordering food in French and commanding servants, but Whitney does not want to marry her because of the scandal of his first marriage. She's had three years of precious gifts and happiness, pretending to be the divorced Mrs. Moreland. At a party she is embarrassed when a married rich man brings his mistress. Marian knows all the reasons why Whitney won't marry her. She says coldly, "A woman can do anything and get anywhere as long as she doesn't fall in love." Al calls on Marian and tells her in contracting he has increased the investment of the money Marian has been sending her mother. Al gets turned down by Marian again, but Whitney promises him a letter of recommendation for the government contracting job. Al tells Whitney he hopes to marry Marian, and she takes Al to Coney Island.
In Whitney's apartment Marian overhears some men ask Whitney to run for governor, but he must give up Mrs. Moreland. Whitney says he plans to marry her; but they do not like that idea, suggesting he marry her off to someone else. So Whitney declines to run. Marian pretends to come in from outside and asks for the rules of conduct for employees. Whitney asks her to marry him, apologizing for making her suffer for his previous bad experience. Marian tells Whitney that she never loved him, and she is going to marry Al. Whitney does not believe her, calls her a tramp, and tells her to get out. She leaves and cries. Whitney runs for governor, and Al and Marian decide to marry until she tells him the truth. Al says he doesn't want her but panics when he realizes he may lose the contract. Whitney gives a campaign speech on prison reform. Leaflets are dropped asking, "Who is Mrs. Moreland?" Marian stands up to say that she is nothing to him now and walks out, crying. In the final scene Whitney goes to her and embraces her.
This story shows the double standard that disgraces single women more than single men for a love affair. Conflicts between love and ambition and also between different social classes are explored.