Based on a story by Maxence van der Meersch, a new doctor has an influential father and two sisters who care about him and his career; but he disobeys his father in marrying a poor woman.
Dr. Michael Corday (Glenn Ford) arrives in a taxi and goes into a hospital to the Neurology Department. He is congratulated on becoming an M. D. Dr. George Esmond (Warner Anderson) introduces himself to Michael as his brother-in-law. He is in pediatrics. Michael asks where his father is. In the elevator Michael meets Dr. Francis Garard (Basil Ruysdael) who says his father has been telling the whole hospital about him.
Michael finds his father Dr. John Corday (Charles Coburn) washing his hands for an operation. Michael decides to watch the operation, and his father wishes his mother was alive.
Michael goes to his father’s home and is welcomed by his sisters Mariette Esmond (Nancy Davis) and Fabienne Corday (Gloria DeHaven).
Mariette tells her husband George that she is proud of Michael. Fabienne asks Dr. Harvey Kenmore (Arthur Franz) why he brought her chocolates. He says Michael is going to intern, and he has to resign his position to make room for him; her father told him. She asks him not to bring her any more chocolates and walks off. Harvey gets his coat and leaves.
In another room Dr. Francis Garard tells Michael that he will go beyond his father’s and his generation. They advise him to use his internship at Bellevue to develop his capacities. George warns him not to flirt with the nurses. Francis says he has to leave for surgery and invites him to visit him at Bellevue. John asks for a brandy to celebrate. Fabienne comes in and tells her father that Kenmore bores her. John says George hung around and became a member of the family. Fabienne says she is not ready for that and says she wants to move out to take up her drawing. John says she spoiled his pleasure in Michael’s homecoming, and Mariette reprimands her too. Fabienne says Michael looks like his father, and she goes out. Michael tells George he does not understand Fabienne. George says he is marrying Mariette despite her father.
At Bellevue Hospital an ambulance with a siren brings another man to the emergency room. Inside Michael treats a woman and tells a policeman that she will be all right. Michael criticizes an intern for being late to relieve him, and he is called a smug, Harvard man. Michael is transferred to the out-patient clinic and says he is glad.
Taffy (Janet Leigh) is told where she is to wait. Michael tells a man he needs absolute rest, but the man says he has to work to support his family. Taffy is called by a number and hands her file to Michael who says an operation is indicated. She asks if it is serious, and he says yes. He says they will fatten her up first. She thanks him and walks away.
At home Michael tells his father and Mariette that a doctor called him brusque with patients. John advises him not to antagonize his chiefs. Michael says he is glad his next transfer is soon. Fabienne comes in and says what she has been doing in her skylight apartment, but her father mocks her and questions her. She gets angry and says she has grown up.
Michael reports to Dr. Alfred Norton (Bruce Bennett) and declines coffee. Norton says he has heard unpleasant things about him, that he is overbearing and short with patients; but he judges people on performance. Michael says his father is John Corday, and he realizes that people resent that. Norton tells how he spent years and got only one promotion. He says Michael has no extra influence there. Michael goes out.
Michael washes ink off his hands, and Taffy says he can smoke there. She says her roommate died an hour ago. He says she should not be in that room. She says what he wrote did not help her. She is sorry he is hard-boiled, and he reminds her she is talking to a doctor.
Garard asks Michael how he is doing, and Michael asks him to keep terminal cases out of the room with Taffy. He says he was rough with her, and Garard says okay.
Norton checks on patients and reprimands Michael for treating an ear that he should have done. A nurse tells Michael that Garard arranged that room for the patient he knows. He thanks her, and Norton notes his influence.
At night Michael has a basket of food and takes it to Taffy. He says doctors can be human when they have time. He asks if she wants to open a package. He gives her the basket and says it is food from his sister Mariette. He persuades her to eat chicken, and he eats too. He asks about her. She says she is poor, and her father was the town drunk. Her mother took in washing. She works in a candy store. He apologizes for being a snob and says he may have inherited things. They don’t like him there. He asks if she has any visitors, and she says only at first from the store. He says he will come in every day. He urges her to have the will to live. He says he may have been wrong in his earlier prognosis. A doctor comes in and offers her a custard and Michael coffee every night. He goes out, and they laugh.
Taffy has a chest x-ray and asks if they are going to operate soon. The nurse says she has good friends there.
Michael asks Taffy why they talk about his visiting her so much. He says it is Platonic, and she wonders what that means. He asks if she wants anything. He looks at her chart and notes she has her operation in the morning. He has to pick up Fabienne and says he will be back.
Michael calls Dr. Garard and asks him to operate on Taffy so that she will not get a resident. Garard says he would have to change his schedule, and Michael says she would have a better chance if he operated. He agrees to do it.
Michael visits Fabienne in her apartment. She says he is like father, but she is getting less like him. She says she cannot go to the Tuesday night dinner with father. He asks if it is a man, and she says yes. He implies he has a woman and would like to stay away. She encourages him to be independent too.
At dinner John tells George not to talk about adenoids. John suggests that George and Mariette get married in October, and they accept. Michael objects to his father tricking Mariette, and John warns him about the girl in Bellevue.
Michael visits Taffy at night and says Garard will operate on her. She thanks him for being wonderful, and he wishes her good luck. He goes out, and she cries.
Michael answers the phone and says he will come over.
Michael assists Dr. Norton in an operation, but the patient dies. Michael mentions an article in a journal, and Norton tells him to break the news to the patient’s relatives. Michael goes to the waiting room and tells the couple what happened. He says sometimes they cannot stop the bleeding. The woman cries while in the man’s arms, and Michael says he is sorry.
Michael goes outside and sees police bring in a man. He goes in to see Taffy and embraces her.
During the operation Garard gives orders to those assisting. Taffy is unconscious. Michael is watching. After they finish, Garard tells Michael she will recover.
Garard tells John and Mariette about Taffy. John tells him to offer her money, but Mariette disagrees. Garard asks her to step out, and he advises John not to spoil his relationship with his children. Like birds, he must let the young go. He advises suggesting, not commanding. He says Michael is a grown man. John asks if she is due for a discharge, and Garard says he will talk with her and leaves. Mariette comes back in with milk for John who says that Garard is a sentimentalist. She asks what he will do if Michael goes for the girl, and John says he will cut him off. She asks about his plans for him, and he says they would end.
Michael brings a present and looks for Taffy. He learns she was released.
John asks Michael to look at this objectively. He admits he had Garard talk to her. He says she would not be good for his career. Michael says he may be weak and inconsistent. John wants to keep him from making a blunder because of an infatuation. He asks if he is in love with her, and Michael says he does not know. He must ask himself. John encourages him to give this serious thought because she is Third Avenue. Michael agrees to think about it.
Michael walks the streets at night and visits Fabienne. He hears something and goes out.
Michael calls on Dr. Norton who is in a bathrobe. Michael says he had to talk to somebody, and Norton asks what it is. Michael says if he goes for the girl, he is on his own; if not, he can have the residency. Norton gives him a drink and says he is not a distress case. Norton says men like his father and others are all part of a great fraternity. Norton says he likes being on the team. Norton advises him to ask himself what he wants and what he is willing to give up to get it.
An ambulance delivers Michael, and he finds Taffy’s apartment and knocks. He comes in and says they smuggled her out. He says they tried to separate them. She says she was writing how wonderful he is, but she won’t let him read it. He asks if she is going back to work. He asks if they gave her a diet and looks around, seeing how little food is there. He offers to buy food for her and says he will come back every day, and then they will be married. She says that is not his plan. He kisses her, and they embrace.
Mariette and Fabienne are working on the wedding announcements, and Michael says he is getting married in two weeks. Fabienne is glad, and Mariette wants to meet her. Fabienne says she will not come home. Mariette says she will stay to take care of father. Fabienne leaves before John comes in the room. Michael says he thought about it and invites him to the wedding at City Hall in two weeks. John asks if he expects him to attend, and Michael says no. John says he did his duty and says good day. Michael goes out, and John says he destroyed himself. Mariette says she will stay there.
Michael carries Taffy up the stairs and across the threshold before collapsing. She says she is all right and asks if he is superstitious. He says she fixed up her apartment. They sit on the couch and kiss. A train goes by.
Mariette is visiting and offers Taffy her fur coat to keep her warm. She suggests they rehearse a way to make the gift casual. Taffy says she cannot be convincing. Michael comes in and kisses them both. He says he is getting dramatic results and tells them about a blue baby who changed color. Taffy admires the coat, and Mariette offers it to her. George comes in and asks Michael if he is interested in pediatrics. Michael asks if that is an offer and thanks him, but he decides to be a lowly general practitioner. Mariette says their father is not eating or sleeping. Fabienne comes in and says she got a ticket to Havana. George and Mariette are leaving, and Michael asks Taffy to go downstairs with them. After they go out, he asks Fabienne about the man. He says he married Taffy, and asks why she kept it a secret. She says he is married and that she is in love with him. He asks her not to worry, and Taffy comes back in. Fabienne says goodbye and goes out. Michael says he has to see his father.
John tells Michael that Fabienne has to fend for herself. He says Michael taught him not to interfere in the lives of his children; but Michael says he married Taffy. He warns his father to protect his children before it is too late, and he storms out.
Michael is working at home, and Taffy pours coffee. She says she found them a place where he can have an office to see patients. He asks if it is far, and she says they can have the flat next door and take out a wall. She asks what he thinks, and he tries to get used to the idea. He goes outside for fresh air.
Michael sits on the roof, and Taffy joins him. She says she registered for business school so that she can learn to keep records. He asks if she can spell the diseases. He has her sit by him and asks her to remind him how happy he is. She says she can see the office and how it will work. He embraces her.
The waiting room has many patients. Taffy calls in a heavy lady, and she sits by Michael’s desk. Taffy goes into the treatment room and then checks pots on the stove in the kitchen. The lady comes in the treatment room, and Taffy tells her to undress behind the screen.
A man brings in his boy and tells Michael he cannot keep the oatmeal in his stomach. Taffy hears a pot boiling over and turns off the stove. Michael asks her to prepare a hypodermic, and he gives the boy a shot in the rear. The man and his son leave, and Taffy calls in another lady. Michael looks at x-rays and tells her that her father has a year or two. She asks if he will tell him he is all right, and he agrees and does that. He tells the old man to walk four miles a day, and they leave. Michael speaks to Hetty, and she says his father sent her. He goes in and tells Taffy that she is a gossip, and his father sent her to see what kind of equipment and conditions they have.
At night while in bed Michael answers the phone and takes down an address. He tells Taffy he has to go to Spanish Harlem for a clogged throat.
Michael examines a boy who can barely breathe. He tells another boy to call a number and tell them that Dr. Corday wants Dr. Esmond. The apartment is crowded, and Michael tells them they have to clear a room.
Later Esmond tells Michael they have to open the trachea and that he will assist. Esmond cuts a piece of rubber hose, and Michael brings in an ironing board and covers it with newspapers. Esmond lays the gasping boy on them.
Later the boy is asleep and has the rubber hose in his neck. A man in a white coat carries the boy out. As they are leaving the mother offers to pay, but Michael says another time. She grabs two quarts of food and gives them to Michael and Esmond before they go out.
Outside Michael tells Esmond how grateful he is. Esmond advises him to patch things up with his father. Esmond admits that was his first tracheotomy, but experience helps. Esmond gets in his car and drives off.
Michael in bed sips coffee and talks with Taffy. He says George did it all because he had extra training and confidence. She asks if he is sorry. He does not like practicing on Third Avenue while calling for help from Park Avenue. She asks if he is glad the boy is alive.
George shows Mariette the bottle of food, his fee for his work. He says Michael lives in his father’s shadow. John comes into the room, and George tells him what happened. John asks what his son did, and George says he made the diagnosis. John says he should have done the tracheotomy himself. John wonders if Michael will ever admit his mistake and come back; but Mariette asks her father if Michael made the mistake.
In his office Garard asks Fabienne about the man, and she says he left her; it is finished. Garard asks about her father, but she does not want him to tell him or Michael. He asks her to trust her family, but she says she has no one but him. He sends her to another doctor for advice on diet. He advises her to rest and take care of herself. He tells her to move where she does not have to climb stairs. He suggests she go home and let Mariette take care of her. Fabienne says she will be all right and says goodbye.
Fabienne comes in and asks the maid if father is there. She sees a book on pregnancy is sticking out.
Fabienne is writhing in pain in her bed.
Michael answers the phone, and Taffy says it is the doorbell. He gets up and helps Fabienne come in. He asks what is wrong. Taffy brings a blanket, and he asks her for a drug. He gives Fabienne a shot to make the pain subside. She says she is sorry to be a nuisance, and she feels better now. She loves them both. Michael calls and says she needs an operation immediately.
John tells Garard that she was always the baby in the family. Garard asks him to get someone else, but John persuades him that he loves her and will bring good luck. Garard agrees to do it.
John, Mariette, and Michael see Fabienne going into surgery. In the operating room Garard gives orders at 4:15. The operation continues, but her pressure is weak. A doctor says there is no pressure, and there is shock. Garard says he cannot stop. The doctor says there is no pulse either; he cannot get the heart going. They realize that she died, and Garard walks out.
At home George comes in and tells John, Mariette, and Michael that it was hopeless. John says he is to blame. She would rather die than come to him. He has no defense. Taffy comes in, and Michael tells her she is gone. Mariette tells John this is the daughter he never met.
John is looking around Fabienne’s apartment at her drawings, and he goes out.
Michael tells Taffy that father wants them to move in with him and asks if she is pleased. She says she will go along with what he wants. At the kitchen table John suggests they pack up today. Michael agrees, and she says all right. She brings in the files of the patients. Michael says he can give them to other doctors. He reads the names and talks about some of the cases to his father. Taffy comes in and says a boy cut his hand. He goes in the other room and starts to treat his bloody hand. John says he will assist him, and they wash their hands. Michael gives him a shot, and the parents ask if their son will be all right. Michael says it is too late to give the patients away. John takes the thread to do the stitches. The parents are concerned, and the father asks the old man why he is butting in to do the work for the doctor. John says he does not blame him and says Michael is the best man for the job.
This drama depicts how a young doctor begins his career while exploring the relationships in his patriarchal family and his finding a romantic marriage. The father wants to help his children, but he has to learn to let them make their own decisions and still love them whatever they do.