A wealthy automobile engineer soon to be married falls in love with an unemployed woman who can cook while pretending he is unemployed too.
At a wedding rehearsal the bride Evelyn Fletcher (Frieda Inescourt) tells the groom Jim Buchanan (Herbert Marshall) how to behave. Jim tells her he has to go, but she does not want to have dinner with him and talk.
In a car Jim asks Bob Reynolds (Alan Edwards) if marriages are made in heaven. Bob says Evelyn has family, and he has money. Jim says he does not feel any special excitement. He wanted to be in love but does not really feel that way now.
Businessmen sit around a table and discuss Jim’s new designs for automobiles. Most oppose his innovative ideas. Only Bob and Howard are with Jim. He thanks them for the vacation and tells them to call him when they are in trouble.
In a park Jim sits on a bench next to Joan Hawthorne (Jean Arthur), who is reading the want ads looking for a job. She hands him the “Help Wanted – Male” section. He does not find anything for his talents. She complains about ads for people with money to invest. She asks him how long since he had a job interview. She reads an ad for a couple who are a cook and a butler that pays $175 a month. She says she can cook, and he suggests she look for a position; but she finds none listed. She asks if he can buttle and suggests they answer the ad together. She asks if he is too good for that. She is determined to sell him the idea because she has just become homeless and does not want to sleep in the park. She urges him to explore a new idea.
At Rossini Manor other couples with foreign accents are being turned away. In the kitchen Mike Rossini (Leo Carrillo) and Flash (Lionel Stander) are testing a cook and see she puts garlic in the sauce. Mike rejects her, and the couple goes out. Joan and Jim come in. She merely waves the garlic over the sauce, and Mike likes the taste and gives them the job. Mike asks Jim if he can handle a new Buchanan car. He says he can. Flash asks if they have references. Joan says they lost their trunks when they arrived on the boat from England. She makes up a story about who they worked for in England. They ask why they left, and they say the lady drank too much. Mike is glad to have a butler named James.
Flash shows them their room over the garage with a double bed. Jim says they will be cozy. Joan sees a flat sofa and gets Jim to help her move it out on the porch. They flip a coin for the beds, and Jim lets her have the room. While she makes up the bed on the porch, he talks about a country club. She tells how she learned to cook for her father. She says his idea of cooking brought her luck. They shake hands and say goodnight. They do not lock the door. She closes the blinds. He climbs down the lattice.
Jim rings the bell at his residence, and his butler lets him in. Jim asks for a coat and hat so that he can learn from his butler how he handles them. Jim practices on the butler as they reverse roles. The butler says he was clumsy. The butler also tells him how to say only what pleases the boss even if he speaks drivel. The butler asks about calls, and Jim orders him to tell people he went fishing. The butler answers the phone and tells Evelyn that Jim went fishing. Evelyn complains, and she wishes the wedding was over.
At 6 a.m. an alarm clock wakes Joan. She puts on a robe and calls to Jim. She opens the door and sees no one on the porch. She starts to pack her suitcase. She hears Jim coughing and singing. She goes out and finds him sitting on the bed on the porch. He says he went to town and got some uniforms for her.
In the kitchen he likes the waffles she cooked. She gets him to help her with the dishes. He says he got an engineer’s degree from Harvard, but she is skeptical. She says he is like Chrysler and James Buchanan. He asks what she knows about Buchanan, and she says she knows him well. She is not happy about his wedding because he is her type. He asks how much money she wants to marry, and she asks for two million. Flash comes in and tells Jim to bring out the car.
In the kitchen Jim drinks cooking sherry. Jim sees five guests have arrived, and they throw their hats to him. At dinner he serves each person and goes out. Mike says he has them there for a big job. When Jim comes back in, he stops talking until he leaves. Jim listens by the door as Mike talks about his experience as a bootlegger. Jim tells Joan that Rossini is not one of the better people. He warns her they may be involved in a life of crime. Mike tells his men that they must obey him. He likes the lobster thermidor.
Later Mike asks Joan for two whiskeys and a soda. Flash suspects they are not servants. Mike has her mix the drinks, and she goes out. Flash asks Mike if he would sleep on the porch if she was his wife. Mike says no and tells him not to snoop.
Mike has a beautiful robe that he gives to Joan. She says she cannot accept it because of her husband. He asks why her husband sleeps on the porch. He makes her try on the robe, and she likes it. He takes her in his arms, and she gently resists him. Jim comes in, gets angry, and says they are leaving.
In their room Jim is packed and tells her to pack too. She says Rossini is harmless. He is angry, but she says she did not like what he did. Jim says he will not work for a man who paws his wife. She asks if she is his wife.
Mike tells Flash what happened. Flash does not want to have to hire someone else. In the kitchen Jim says he is happy with the doubled salary. She shows him the newspaper article about Buchanan’s wedding. She tells how he talked to her about giving her up. She says it is her luck to catch someone like Jim.
At night Jim goes to his office, unlocks the door and goes to the safe. Flash is following him and sees him open the safe and take out a package. Flash hides as Jim leaves.
At 12:25 Jim sneaks into their room but drops a shoe. She tells him to drop the other one. She asks why he bothered to come home. She asks where he was. He says he went to get the package. She implies he is treating his wife badly, and he asks when they were married. She asks about the package, and he says they are portraits of women he has known. He shows her the drawings of the new car designs by Buchanan.
Flash wakes up Mike to tell him that they did not come over on a boat. He tells how he followed James to the Buchanan building where he robbed the safe. Mike tells Flash to watch him.
Joan asks Jim which car she should choose, and he praises her beauty. She says she wants him, and he says he aims to please. He says he could not sell his designs. She predicts they will sell, but he says he could not be happier than he is now. He kisses her, and they hear the alarm. He says it is their day off, and they can spend the day together as planned. She says she is busy, but she will meet him for lunch.
Jim goes into his office and tells his secretary he is still fishing.
Joan shows the drawings to the Atlas Motor Company. She says the drawings are by Jim Burns. The man takes them to his boss who identifies them as Buchanan’s style. They call Buchanan and tells his secretary they have the designs. She says they are missing from the safe. They will turn the woman over to the police.
In his office Jim is talking with Bob who says he can start over again. He advises Jim to come to his senses.
Police come in and arrest Joan, and they ask where her husband is. She says she was lying about being married.
Jim is waiting at the restaurant.
Police are interrogating Joan, who says she found the drawings. They lock her up.
Jim comes back to their room. She is not there, and he writes a note.
Flash finds Mike at a restaurant and tells him that his cook is in jail. He shows Mike the note that James left her. Mike orders Flash to get Joan bailed out.
In a car Mike and Flash talk with Joan. They show her the letter from Jim, which tells her he is not the man she thinks he is. She starts crying, and Mike puts his arm around her. She says she never married him. Mike asks how she fell for him, and she says it was the depression.
At his dinner table Mike advises Joan to make a better choice next time. She asks him to treat her like a cook. He asks her to marry him because he makes up his mind fast. He says he will give her anything, and he will turn his life around. She apologizes and says she does not make up her mind so fast. She goes out, and Flash runs in with a newspaper. Mike sees the story about the wedding of James Buchanan with Jim’s picture. Mike says he should be “rubbed out.” He tells Flash to make sure Buchanan meets with a serious accident. Flash goes out, and Joan comes back in. Mike shows her the photo of Buchanan, and she sees it is Jim. She feels he must have been laughing at her. She wonders why she was trying to save him from jail. She says she hates him, and she wants revenge. Mike says he is ahead of her; there is going to be no wedding and no Buchanan. She realizes he is going to have him killed and tells him to stop Flash. She says she loves him and tells Mike to keep out of her affair. Mike says he will fix it.
Cars are arriving for the wedding, including Flash and his gang. Inside the processional has started. Jim is waiting by the priest. His bride Evelyn approaches and stands by him. Flash and his gang come in with guns and tell people to stick up their hands. He tells James he is going with them. They walk out with him and put him in a car. A car arrives, and Mike gets out. Mike tells Flash the rub-out is off, and there is going to be a grab. The car leaves and is dragging tin cans with a “Just Married” sign. In the car Jim asks how much they want. Two motorcycle cops see the speeding car and catch up to it and make it pull over. The officer tells the driver that an ordinance against noise means they have to take off the cans. They let the car go on without the cans. They go to Rossini Manor, where Mike tells Jim he must say “I do” in the right places.
Inside Flash tells Joan to go into the living-room. Jim sees Joan and says Rossini is a genius. Joan asks why Jim came back. She realizes that Mike expects her to be the bride. Mike says she said she loves Jim. She says she loves Jim Burns, not Buchanan. She walks away. Mike decides to have a drink. Jim says they have business because they have to find him a bride. He says the police will come and arrest them for kidnapping. Jim says he still wants to get married. He tells Mike he must convince her. They knock on her door, and Mike asks her to open the door. Jim discusses with them and says he loves her. She hears them threaten Jim and then gunshots. She comes out crying and hugs Jim as he is laying on the floor.
This romantic comedy depicts the Depression when many are unemployed while a few a very rich. A successful man pretends to be poor in order to have a real experience with a beautiful and charming liar. They are hired by gangsters who turn out to be good guys in this case. Love has conquered all.