Two women leave prison and try to marry rich men.
Lorry Evans (Constance Bennett) and Minnie (Pert Kelton) are released from prison in Louisiana after six months. A priest suggests a governess job to Lorry, but she rejects it. Lorry and Minnie take a steamboat but don't have enough money to get to New Orleans. So Lorry gets a man drunk and takes $60 from him. When he calls the police, she jumps overboard. She is pulled aboard a barge, realizes she lost the money, and pushes Dan (Joel McCrea) in the river. He gives Lorry a catfish dinner and his bed; but she takes his cash too and leaves.
Lorry in glasses interviews publisher Stephen Paige (John Halliday) for a newspaper, finding out his views on Prohibition. She asks for a drink for her heart trouble and takes him drunk to his home, where he passes out on the couch. In the morning Stephen finds Lorry there. He tries to get rid of her, but she threatens to kill herself. So he sets her up in a nice apartment. Lorry visits Dan and returns his money. He does not object if she needed it more than he. Lorry says she has a new job she calls a "bed of roses." They make a date. Minnie visits Lorry and tells her she is married. Stephen tells Lorry he doesn't want Minnie there anymore and asks her why she lied. He warns her not to see other men and then angrily tells her to leave.
Dan gives Lorry a kimono. He shaves, invites her for a catfish dinner, and proposes to her. Lorry tells Stephen she is going away and getting married. Stephen suggests she tell Dan about herself, but she is afraid to lose him. Stephen says it won't last and argues their relationship is honest and more fun than a cotton barge. Dan's barge shoves off at eight, two hours late, while Lorry cries in her new little apartment. Stephen asks Minnie's help in meeting Lorry and gives her money. Minnie finds Lorry working in a department store and invites her to her party, making her accept by screaming. At the costume party Minnie henpecks her husband and gives Lorry a diamond bracelet; but Lorry returns the bracelet to Stephen, saying she is not going back to him. Dan visits Lorry in her one-room apartment. She says she wanted to prove she could live like the woman he would want her to be. He accepts her as she is, and they kiss. Minnie approves of their love, as she kisses her diamond bracelet.
We see Lorry's transformation from a robbing, lying gold-digger to a hard-working, faithful wife after she finds a moderately successful man her own age with good qualities who loves her, while her cynical friend Minnie marries a fool for his money and becomes a mistress on the side.