Based on the play by Robert Buckner and Walter Hart from Victoria Lincoln's novel, a poor daughter of a drunkard and prostitute marries a working man.
Homer Adams (Miles Mander) drinks and tells his daughter Ellie May Adams (Ginger Rogers) to keep her dreams. He quotes Menander that we don't live as we wish but as we can. Her mother Mamie Adams (Marjorie Rambeau) comes home with a fur and presents from Hawkins. Mamie stops Homer from shooting himself. Gramp (Henry Travers) picks up walking Ellie May and takes her to his hamburger stand for a sandwich. Ed Wallace (Joel McCrea) talks to Ellie May on the beach and helps find clams. She puts his wallet in her bag. He drives her wildly on his motorcycle. He kisses her, and she slaps him because she has never been kissed before. A cop stops them, and Ellie May gives back his wallet. Ellie May dresses to look older, and Mamie gives her the fur. Ellie May tells Mamie that Ed kissed her, and Mamie shows her how to walk. In the Bluebell Ed does not notice Ellie May until she falls down. She tells Ed she ran away for him. Ed says he is not ready for marriage. She cries and asks him to kiss her.
Waitress Ellie May makes cracks about the food and banters with Ed and Gramp. Ed named his boat after her. Mamie gets her fur back in the mail. Mamie, Thelma (Vivienne Osborne), and two men stop in their car. Ellie May sees them and overhears men, getting upset. Ed asks her why, and she says that Mamie is her ma. They go see her folks. Her sister Honeybell Adams (Joan Carroll) recites a poem. Homer comes in drunk and says they are outcasts. Ed leaves and goes to the Bluebell. Ellie May finds Gramp alone and has him take her there too. She asks for milk. Tipsy Ed makes fun of her family and kisses Carmelita (Carmen Morales). Ed tells lying Ellie May to go back to Primrose Hill. Ellie May finds that Mamie was shot; but Mamie says it was an accident, though her mother Grandma (Queenie Vassar) implicates Homer. Mamie tells police it was an accident. Ed scrapes Ellie May's name off his boat, but Gramp tells Ed not to blame Ellie May. Mamie asks Ellie May to take care of Homer. Ed comes, but Grandma tells him Ellie May went to San Francisco with a man. Mamie dies.
Thelma says that Hawkins paid for the funeral. Ellie May brings home bread but can't find a job. Grandma wants her to take after Mamie. Ellie May finds Homer drunk, having sold his books. Thelma gives Ellie May a dress. With two men they stop at the Bluebell, where Ed is dancing. He and Ellie May insult each other. Ed tells Smith (Charles Lane) to be good to Ellie May, and Smith tells her that Ed is still stuck on her. Smith says he is Hawkins. Ed and Ellie May bring groceries to Grandma, and Ed says he is boss now, ordering Honeybell to go to school. He gives Grandma money and leaves on a honeymoon with Ellie May.
This realistic drama portrays of slice of life on the
poor side of town, where people struggle to survive. Ellie May
wants to escape but almost loses her husband when he learns about
her family. Oddly, censors were placated by having her prostitute
mother be killed.