A couple of actors love to quarrel, and he postpones marriage to try to discourage an adoring admirer for her fiancé's sake in this screwball comedy.
While Basil Underwood (Leslie Howard) and Joyce Arden (Bette Davis) play Romeo and Juliet, young Marcia West (Olivia de Havilland) weeps and walks out when Romeo dies. Basil and Joyce quarrel. Marcia goes to Basil's dressing-room and tells him she loves him. Joyce sees her leaving. Henry Grant (Patric Knowles) reminds Marcia that they are engaged. With his valet Digges (Eric Blore) Basil laments that Joyce does not love him. Joyce barricades her door, but Basil climbs in the window. Basil says, "Happy New Year," and they make up. He again suggests they get married. Henry calls on Basil about Marcia and asks Basil to help Marcia get over him. Basil asks Joyce to put it off another day, and she gets angry.
Henry drives Basil and Digges to William West's house, and they wake up everyone. William West (George Barbier) tells them to get out, but Marcia agrees with Basil that she invited him. At breakfast Basil orders kipper and then rejects it. Marcia defends Basil and apologizes to him. Basil tells her he dislikes her moles, but she tells Henry she is going to have them removed. Henry stops Basil from leaving. Basil considers how much Marcia loves him. Digges calls Joyce to rescue Basil. Basil tells Henry he will sell him to Marcia; but she says that Henry is dull. Marcia sees Basil as lonely and consoles him. While Digges warns Basil with bird calls, Marcia tells Basil that she loves him. Basil kisses her. Joyce arrives and sees Basil embracing Marcia. Basil and Joyce tell Marcia that they are married, causing her to walk away. Basil explains to Joyce that he is helping Henry by getting Marcia to fall out of love with him. Joyce plans to leave.
Marcia tells Basil that she forgives him. Basil finds Joyce in a locked room and pretends to shoot himself to get in. Basil asks Henry to explain to Joyce, but Henry denies it. Joyce offers to help Basil and laughs. Marcia tells Joyce how she loves Basil. Joyce tells Basil that he will be happy with Marcia, and she agrees to divorce. Joyce tells Basil he will live on worship without fighting. Basil thinks of a plot to get rid of Marcia. He sneaks into her room and locks the doors, threatening her with "a fate worse than death;" but Marcia responds by kissing Basil, causing him to flee. Marcia gives Henry his ring back, because Basil proved he loves her. West asks Basil his intentions. Henry accuses Basil of stealing Marcia and socks him. Henry asks Basil to tell Marcia that he arranged it, but Basil denies it.
Basil and Digges go home and find Marcia. Henry wishes Basil well with Marcia, who hears Henry say he loves her. Marcia tells Basil that she got over him. As Basil recites Shakespeare's ages of man, Henry and Marcia sneak out. In the lobby Marcia tells Joyce that she can have Basil back. Joyce sees a halo around Basil. They plan to marry, then quarrel and kiss.
Although absurd, this comedy is hilarious, as the emotionally varied lives of actors cause excitement and conflict. The helpful valet must constantly adjust to changes; Henry fights for his girl and detaches; Marcia follows her feelings; Joyce uses clever strategy; and Basil, after flirting with an adoring youth, realizes he would rather have a mature sparring partner.