King Vidor directed his own story about an immigrant who works hard and rises from working in iron and steel to making cars and then planes.
Stefan Dangos (Brian Donlevy) is allowed into the USA with less than $5, and he walks to Minnesota to work. He finds his cousin Anton (John Qualen), who gets him a job in the iron mines. Stefan asks questions of the school teacher Anna O'Rourke (Ann Richards) and learns to read. On a picnic he kisses Anna, who encourages him to make steel. When the iron mine stops for the winter, Stefan goes to Pittsburgh and works in a steel mill. He writes to Anna when he becomes foreman, and she comes to marry him. They have a daughter and four sons. In the plant molten steel spills, but men rescue Stefan. He studies and increases production.
Years later Stefan drives his family in a new car to the high school graduation and stops to fix the car, meeting the teacher, Howard Clinton (Walter Abel). George Washington Dangos (Bob Lowell) speaks about America and democracy. Stefan's daughter Tina wants to get married, and George says he is enlisting. As George leaves, he asks his father to become a citizen. Stefan reviews American history. Anna reads a telegram that George was killed. Stefan takes the oath as a citizen. Stefan rebuilds the car and takes Howard for a ride, racing a locomotive and getting arrested. Later Stefan and Howard find themselves in a hospital after their car overturned. They move to Detroit to start a car company. Stefan drives the new car and overturns it to show the steel roof works. Stefan refuses to sell his car to a big auto firm that will not build it yet. Stefan and Howard ask the workers to wait longer for pay, and Anton offers money for materials. They build a car for the New York auto show. Howard tells Stefan that he has backers, and they go into production.
Theodore Roosevelt Dangos (Stephen McNally) has become an engineer and comes to work for his father, who offers him a top position; but Theodore wants to start at the bottom. Theodore tells Stefan that the workers are organizing. At a board meeting Stefan refuses to recognize the union after a three-month strike. Theodore speaks for the workers and asks that they work together for the stockholders. The board outvotes Stefan and accepts the contract. Anna asks Stefan to take her on the honeymoon he promised after the kids were grown. They drive to California and retire. Theodore's letter says they are starting an aircraft plant in San Diego. After Pearl Harbor, Stefan goes to Theodore and Howard. He says they can use the assembly line on planes too. Teams assemble the modern planes.
This drama of an American success story shows the industrial
development in the first half of the twentieth century.