Parents of opposite extremes divorce over competitiveness, and their son struggles to find a self-assertive balance with his aggressive wife.
In 1922 Dan Painter (Thomas Mitchell) complains that his wife Sally Painter (Barbara O'Neil) does not play golf to win and that his son Ted (Dickie Moore) is not aggressive enough. Dan tells Sally what to wear to a party. Lisa Blake (Mona Barrie) corners Dan, who says it is finished. They kiss as friends, and Sally sees them. Sally tells Dan she does not blame him, but he gets angry. Children Ted and Barbara Blake (Audrey Leonard) pretend to wed and argue. Sally and Ted leave Dan for Reno. Divorced Lisa wants to marry Dan soon and is upset he is not eager.
Stocks crash, and Dan tells Sally she only lost a little. Sally tells Dan that she married Dr. MacConaghey (Minor Watson). Dan wants Ted to go to his school and play football; but Sally wants him to be a doctor and play tennis. Ted Painter (Wayne Morris) plays tennis for Yale, and Barbara Blake (Priscilla Lane) remembers him. Ted disagrees with the judge on his point and loses on purpose. Dan is furious. Barbara urges Ted to come to the dance, where she reminds him they are married. Pete Martin (Dick Foran) is jealous and tells Ted he plans to marry Barbara; but she tells her father Jim Blake (John Litel) that she loves Ted and will marry him. Barbara calls Ted, but Sally keeps him from her until she gets Dan to help her. Barbara greets Ted, and they go out in Dan's car. Ted kisses Barbara. They go to Sally and tell her they are married. Sally is crushed to learn that Ted is not going to medical school.
Both families gather. Lisa tells Dan to give Ted a job; but Dan refuses. Ted says he is going into a soap business. Ted works late and tells Barbara his partners quit. She suggests he quit that, but he won't. Sally finds Ted working late and suspects Barbara with Pete. Barbara and Pete come back from a party, and Pete asks her to marry. Ted and Sally catch them kissing, and Ted tells Barbara he will step aside. Ted tells Dan, who says that Ted should fight Pete. Ted asks Dan for a job; but Dan says no because Ted is a loser. Mac tells Sally that she ruined Ted's life and that Dan's extreme is wrong too. Ted looks for work and is offered ditch digging. Ted argues with Barbara. When Pete comes to pick her up, Ted fights him and throws him out. Barbara slaps Ted; but he fights back by spanking her as Sally, Dan, John, and Lisa watch. Ted decides to take the ditch-digging job.
This drama explores the extremes of fighting or submitting. The dialog suggests a moderate balance; but the dramatic action implies the reactionary approach of force instead of intelligent and loving action. Surely one can be understanding and fair instead of selfish without being weak.