An alcoholic director makes a waitress a movie star and almost ruins her marriage before destroying himself in this often retold (A Star Is Born) story.
Tipsy movie director Max Carey (Lowell Sherman) gives out gardenias at the Brown Derby, where he meets the star-struck waitress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett). He buys an old car and takes her to a movie premiere at the Chinese Theater. Finding her on his couch when he wakes up, he invites her to the studio set and gives her a bit part. Seeing her acting, he arranges for her to be replaced; but she practices at home and does so well in the bit, studio executive Julius Saxe (Gregory Ratoff) offers her a contract and plans a publicity campaign. Saxe warns Carey about his drinking.
At a polo field in Santa Barbara Mary meets millionaire Lonnie Borden (Neil Hamilton). He invites her to dinner; but she requests an orchestra and luxurious food and then sends a note. He breaks into her room and carries her out in her nightgown. Seeing all she ordered, Mary has him apologize. She relaxes, and they dance. Mary shows her engagement ring to Saxe, and he plans an elaborate wedding. Carey says the marriage won't last. After being mobbed by fans at the wedding Mary is told by Saxe to postpone her honeymoon for retakes. While Carey is directing her, Mary talks to Lonnie. All this is reported in a gossip column. Mary argues with Lonnie, but they make up. A magazine interviews both of them on their love life until Lonnie walks out. Saxe has had to hire someone to finish Carey's picture, as he has been missing for a week. Mary's looking for him is reported, and Lonnie complains. In the middle of the night Carey shows up at their house drunk. Lonnie decides to leave Hollywood. Carey visits Mary's set, and she gets a telegram that she is divorced. Carey consoles her, and she tells him she is expecting a baby. On Easter Lonnie sends their son a bunny. Mary gets Carey out of jail and brings him home. He tells her he is burned out. He finds a gun, looks at himself in the mirror, and shoots himself. Mary, distraught by his death and the scandal, goes to France so that Lonnie won't take their son. Lonnie finds her there and tells her he wants her back; in the final shot they kiss.
This story exposes the stresses and neurotic behavior that can result from stardom. Carey's fall is almost as fast as Mary's rise, and whether Lonnie will ever get used to being "Mr. Evans" is anybody's guess. Only the studio executive who manipulates their lives seems to be stable.