Based on a novel by Henry Bellamann, a young man in 1900 becomes a psychiatrist, sees diverse insanity, and helps his friend recover from an accident.
The boy Parris goes swimming with Cassie Tower, whose family is mistrusted by others. Parris plays with his friend Drake and Randy. One day Cassie tells Parris she can't go to school anymore. Years later Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) tells Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) he is going to study medicine with Dr. Tower (Claude Rains). Madame von Eln (Maria Ouspenkaya) plans to leave everything to Parris, who says he likes Dr. Tower. Parris wants to see Cassandra Tower (Betty Field) and goes with Drake to Louise Gordon (Nancy Coleman); but Dr. Henry Gordon (Charles Coburn) won't let Drake see her. Parris goes back to see Cassandra and kisses her while her father is away, spending the rest of the night with Drake. Parris tells Drake that Cassandra is the only one. Parris asks Dr. Tower about Dr. Gordon, and Dr. Tower tells him of psychiatry. Parris learns from housekeeper Anna (Ilka Gruning) that Madame has cancer. Perturbed Cassandra clings to Parris, who is going to Vienna and asks her to marry when he comes back. Parris learns that Madame died and stays with Drake. Frantic Cassandra asks to go away with Parris and runs out. Drake tells Parris that Dr. Tower killed Cassandra and then himself. Drake hears that Cassandra had packed and says she was going away with him. Attorney Col. Skeffington (Harry Davenport) says that Dr. Tower left everything to Parris.
Parris reads Dr. Tower's notebook and tells Drake that he saw that Cassandra was going insane like her mother. Anna, Drake, and Randy Monaghan (Ann Sheridan) say goodbye to Parris. Drake takes Randy for a ride and kisses her. Parris writes from Vienna in 1900. Randy urges Drake to buy low land and build houses for workers. Louise sees them and quarrels with her mother (Judith Anderson). Randy asks Drake about Louise. Randy is working class and says she won't marry Drake, who talks to her father (Ernest Cossart). Drake loses his savings to an embezzler. Drake got drunk, went to jail, and asks Pa Monaghan for a job. He works for the railroad and reads a letter from Parris to Randy. Drake has an accident with the train, and Dr. Gordon amputates both his legs. Louise calls her father a monster and says she will talk, but he threatens to have her committed. Drake asks where the rest of him is. Parris gets a letter from Randy and is offered a position in Vienna.
Randy tells Drake they will marry, and Parris writes to help Drake. Parris returns and greets Randy and Drake. Col. Skeffington shows Dr. Parris his new office and says Dr. Gordon is dead. Mrs. Gordon tells Parris that Louise withdrew and cursed her dead father. Louise tells Parris she is not crazy and that her father punished Drake. Parris asks Col. Skeffington, who suggests he leave. By the pond Parris meets pretty Elise (Kaaren Verne), and they play piano in his old house. Drake and Randy show Parris their building plans; but Drake never wants to move. Randy tells Parris she loves Drake. Louise bursts in, and Parris persuades her to leave. Randy's brother says that Drake's legs were not broken. Parris says that Drake must not know and suggests committing Louise. Parris asks Elise if she will leave with him. She would but hopes he'll stay. Parris goes and tells Drake that Dr. Gordon wanted to destroy him. Drake laughs and says he will move into a new home, because he feels swell.
This melodrama explores a pioneering psychiatrist learning
about mental illness in people he knows; he finally realizes that
the truth can be the best therapy.