The novel by Sinclair Lewis satirizing a middle-aged businessman is adapted as comedy and melodrama.
George Babbitt (Guy Kibbee) receives telegrams and is threatened with a breach of promise suit, but he can't even remember the woman. His lawyer Charlie (Alan Hale) takes him blindfolded to what turns out to be a meeting of the lodge Zebras, who laugh at George's embarrassment and make him ring master. George gives his friend Paul Reisling (Minor Watson) money so he won't have to pawn his violin. They want to go fishing, and George's wife Myra (Aline MacMahon) agrees to soften up Paul's shrewish wife Zilla (Minna Gombell), who nags Paul unmercifully. George tells Zilla she is a scold and will pay for the fishing trip. George complains his secretary hides his cigars (at his request when he wants to quit), and she improves his letter without his even noticing. George takes Tanis Judique (Claire Dodd) looking for a house. George goes to the home of banker Luke Ethorne (Walter Walker) to support the library; they drink "root beer" and laugh. George refuses to let his son Ted (Glen Boles) transfer to engineering school, saying they are "too soft on kids these days."
Ethorne and the commissioner get Babbitt to line up three people on a secret real estate deal for a city airport. Myra wonders if it is honest. While Zilla complains, Paul wishes he could play violin and tells George, who merely wants better things, that what you can't touch may be more important. Ted tells his father the airport deal is crooked. When he learns that Paul shot Zilla, George visits his friend in jail and offers to pay the lawyer. Paul is sentenced to ten years. Myra and George argue about Zilla, and Myra goes to help her for several weeks. George becomes friends with Tanis, and Zebras warn him about "stepping." George tells her about the airport deal. Tanis is soon blackmailing Ethorne and the commissioner; when that fails, she asks for $10,000 from George. Ted brings Myra home, and she looks after the immature George. Ted pays off the people holding the lots. Not getting money, Tanis exposes the scandal to the press; but George pretends he bought the land to protect the city and donates it for the airport. George lets Ted transfer to engineering and realizes what Paul meant about things you can't touch. He had resigned from the Zebras, but now they welcome him back.
With the exception of the airport land scandal and changing the Good Citizens League to the silly Zebras, the novel's characters come alive on the screen. The satire of the materialistic businessman is still effective.