George Gershwin plays piano and becomes a great success composing music, but during his short life he works hard and has little time for romance.
The Gershwin family buys a piano, and the boy George (Mickey Roth) plays it. Years later George Gershwin (Robert Alda) gets a job playing piano in a vaudeville theater. George tells his piano teacher Frank (Albert Bassermann) that he wants to compose. While selling sheet music, George is fired for playing his own song "Swanee" for Julie Adams (Joan Leslie). Waiting to see Max Dreyfus (Charles Coburn), George meets Oscar Levant (himself). Max offers George a contract and calls Al Jolson (himself). In a show Jolson sings "Swanee." Frank says that George is making a fortune and could go to Europe. George writes "S' Wonderful" for a show with Julie that flops. His father Morris Gershwin (Morris Carnovsky) buys a Turkish bath, and Ira writes lyrics. George White (himself) asks George to write music for his annual shows. Julie sings "Somebody Loves Me."
George writes "Blue Monday Blues," but the audience does not like it. Paul Whiteman (himself) offers to do a concert of George's blues music. Frank and Max debate George's future possibilities. "Rhapsody in Blue" is performed with George on piano. Reviews are good, and Ira says he is engaged to Lee (Julie Bishop). George gives up White's Scandals and learns that Frank died.
George goes to Paris, where Hazel Scott (herself) sings and plays "Fascinating Rhythm." George dances with Christine Gilbert (Alexis Smith). George meets her at an art show and learns she is a painter, but he talks music with Maurice Ravel. Christine tells George not to talk about love. She brings him a dog, and he asks her to go to New York. They are met by a surprise party, and Oscar implies that George fell in love with himself. Christine says she understands. George and Ira ask disappointed Julie to sing "Embraceable You," and she breaks down. George is painting his self-portrait. He urges Christine to paint and wants to marry her, but she says no. George goes back to Julie, who rejects him. She tells Max that she is leaving after the show closes.
George returns to Paris and writes the tone poem, "An American in Paris," which is performed at Carnegie Hall. Morris Gershwin learns that he has leukemia, and he asks Ira to take care of George. On a tour George conducts his "Cuban Overture." George works on a show with Oscar, Ira, and Max and says he wants to write an opera. Max tells George to relax and mentions Julie. George is still working on his self-portrait. He sees Julie sing in Miami, says he needs her, and asks her to come back; but she says she is engaged in order to make him go.
Porgy and Bess is performed, and Max says that George has made opera entertaining. George plays his "Concerto in F" in Los Angeles. He realizes that something is wrong with his hands and brain. George tells Ira that he has to work. Julie calls and says she will take a plane to be with George. When a tenor sings "Love Walked In," George collapses. Oscar plays the Concerto in New York, and the conductor announces that George Gershwin just died in California. Oscar plays "Rhapsody in Blue."
Although not perfectly accurate, this biography portrays
the life and outstanding music of one of America's greatest composers
with the underlying theme that his musical genius was more important
than a personal relationship.