Based on Philip Barry's play, an ex-husband and a reporter keep a socialite on the rebound from marrying a self-made man.
C. K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) leaves Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Two years later Tracy plans to wed George Kittredge (John Howard). Her younger sister Dinah Lord (Virginia Weidler) likes Dexter better. George has trouble mounting a horse. Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell) of Spy magazine assigns reporter Macaulay Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) to cover socialite Tracy. Dexter helps them get in. Tracy figures out that Dexter brought reporters; but he shows her a story about her father to blackmail her. So Tracy welcomes them. Macaulay learns that Elizabeth was divorced. George arrives, and Tracy greets Uncle Willie (Roland Young) as her Papa. Dexter stays for lunch, and Tracy knocks over Elizabeth's camera. Tracy sees her father Seth Lord (John Halliday) and calls him Uncle Willie.
Elizabeth drops Macaulay at the library to research the family, and he finds Tracy reading his book of stories. She likes it. They walk to the pool, and Tracy offers Macaulay a cottage; but he says that's gone out. Dexter and Tracy banter about his drinking. He says George is beneath her, and she needs to tolerate human frailty. George tells Tracy he admires her purity and kisses her on the cheek. Seth tells Tracy she lacks an understanding heart and is a prig and a spinster. Seth tells Macaulay and Elizabeth who he is.
Tracy drinks and dances with George and then with Macaulay. Tipsy Macaulay goes to the house of Dexter. Macaulay doesn't like George either. Macaulay tells Dexter about Kidd, and Dexter writes the story. Elizabeth comes and tells Dexter that Tracy had a fight with George. Dexter tells Tracy not to marry George. Tracy calls Macaulay an intellectual snob; but Macaulay says she is wonderful and kisses her. Dexter takes Elizabeth back; she loves Macaulay but doesn't want to get in his way. Dexter warns George about Macaulay, who carries Tracy after a swim as he sings. George is angry, but Dexter hits Macaulay.
Dinah tells hung-over Uncle Willie about Macaulay and Tracy. Dexter greets tired Tracy. Dinah tells her sister she saw her with Macaulay. Tracy thanks her father for coming. Macaulay asks Tracy if she is still going to marry George. Dexter brings Tracy a drink, and she calls for George to come for a talk. Tracy and Dexter recall his True Love yacht. Tracy reads a note from George aloud to all and tells George she agrees it is off. Macaulay says it was just a swim. When George hears Kidd is there, he tells Tracy he wants to go ahead; but she says no. Macaulay asks Tracy to marry, and she declines because of Elizabeth. Tracy tells the wedding guests; but Dexter has her say they will give them the wedding they missed before. In the final scene Kidd takes a photo of the wedding of Tracy and Dexter.
This witty comedy also does some serious character probing
in comparing class differences while exploring the fun and problems
of drinking that probably cost Dexter his first marriage.