A woman wants to be an actress; after her husband goes to prison, she gives up her daughter to pursue her career.
Eve Appleton (Kay Francis) works at a newsstand and tells her husband Bill Appleton (John Litel) that actor Wilton Banks (Ian Keith) arrived. Banks hears applause and tells Eve she was superb, offering to help her technique. Bill's mother suspects that Eve lied and went out to see Banks. Bill learns that Eve did not go to the movies and finds her with Banks. Bill hits Banks, who falls into the lake and dies. Witnesses testify against Bill, and lawyer Grant (Donald Crisp) tells Eve that she is responsible for Bill's guilt by lying to him. Bill is sentenced to life imprisonment. Eve kisses Bill good-bye and says she will work to free him.
Eve joins a troupe and meets aging burlesque queen Tim Addams (Minna Gombell). Tom gets Eve a job in vaudeville but tells her to get rid of her daughter; but Eve says no. Tim argues with Eve about possibly taking her daughter Jackie, finally admitting she likes her. Tim says her child died. Eve tells Tim to take Jackie that night. In New York Eve does a reading for Bert Ballin (Ian Hunter) and Janet Eaton (Leona Maricle), and Bert gives her the part. Director Bert criticizes everyone but Eve, but the star Janet tells him to fire Eve. Bert offers her a personal contract, but Eve runs out and sails to London.
Tim shows Grant Eve's clippings before going to London. Grant tells Tim he needs $10,000 to free Bill. Eve greets Jackie (Sybil Jason), who calls Tim mummy. Tim says that Eve should tell Jackie, who wants to be an actress. Eve sees Bert after four years, and he asks her to do the play he wrote for her. Eve asks for a $10,000 advance and opens in New York. Jackie play-acts and says good-night to Eve. Bert gives Eve the check and asks her to marry. Eve kisses Bert and tells him about Bill. She admits she does not love Bill but will go back to him. Bert urges her to tell Bill the truth. Eve visits Bill in prison, and he does not doubt her love. Jackie cries after learning who her parents are. Eve asks Jackie to play a part for Bill's belief that Eve worked as a nurse. Bert commends Eve's decision as better than selfish love. Grant greets Eve at the station. Eve and Jackie walk to the prison, and Jackie calls her mommy.
This sad drama explores career ambition, jealousy, motherhood, sacrifice, and loyalty with poignant feelings in difficult situations. Eve heroically gives up her own successful acting career to pay back her husband for his suffering; but her daughter clearly has the acting bug too.