Based on Frederic Wakeman's novel, a war veteran tries to get a high-paying job working for an advertising agency with a rich client while he is attracted to two women.
Victor Norman (Clark Gable) tells Kimberly (Adolph Menjou) that he wants an advertising job paying $25,000 a year. Victor says he will ask for an endorsement, and he goes to see widow Kay Dorrance (Deborah Kerr). She agrees to do it for $5,000, but a photographer expects her to wear a negligee. Victor uses a more dignified photo, and Kimberly is upset. Evan Llewellyn Evans (Sydney Greenstreet) demonstrates his advertising theories, but Victor says his idea for Beautee Soap is not clean. Victor has a record played of an ad. Evans likes it and hires Victor.
Kay goes with Victor to Kimberly's for dinner, and they go out with Kimberly's wife. Victor's friend Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner) sings "Don't Tell Me." Tipsy Kimberly tells how his boss was arrested. In the cab Victor says Kay is different. He kisses her and takes her on a drive to the beach. Victor asks her to meet him at an inn.
Victor dictates a memo to Kimberly about how radio has become worse because of sales pitches. Victor finds the inn has changed. Kay is disappointed, learns Victor is in the adjoining room, and leaves. Victor is called to a meeting with Kimberly and Evans on Sunday. Evans wants a show with the comedian Buddy Hare. Evans asks Victor to talk with Hare's agent Dave Lash (Edward Arnold) on the train to California. Victor calls on Kay, who explains why she left the inn.
On the train Victor sees Jean, who cooperates by running down Hare in front of Lash. She feels that Victor is on the rebound and is trying to sell her. Lash tries to sell Hare to Victor, who buys with an option letter. Lash learns he was had. Buddy Hare (Keenan Wynn) and two writers come to Victor. Hare is mediocre, but Victor tells the writers they can make him a side-show barker. Victor goes to Jean and asks her to sing the way Evans wants. They kiss, but after dinner Victor is reminded of Kay. Victor goes back to his place and by his door finds Kay. They embrace warmly.
Victor learns they lost Hare, and he goes to Lash, who has lawyers. Victor warns Lash he will be seen as crooked, and Lash says Victor can have Hare for his show. Victor asks for forgiveness and tells Kay about it. Victor says he wants to support Kay and sends her back to New York.
Victor works with the writers on the script. Kimberly meets Victor at the airport. Victor calls Kay to come to Evans' building. Victor asks Kimberly for $35,000 because he is engaged to Kay. Evans likes Victor's program and offers him $35,000, but Victor says he uses fear to control people and pours water on him. Victor tells Kay that he threw away the job. Kay says big money does not matter, and Victor kisses her.
This romantic comedy exposes the burgeoning advertising
industry that intrudes in radio programs while suggesting that
marriage and family can bring more happiness than a romantic fling.