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At his New York apartment, actor Fred Graham and composer Cole Porter discuss plans to recruit Fred's ex-wife, actress Lili Vanessi, to star in their new show, Kiss Me Kate , a musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew . Lili arrives, and after singing the love duet with Fred, agrees to consider taking the role of "Katherine." They are interrupted by the arrival of flashy dancer Lois Lane, who has used her wiles on Fred to secure the role of "Bianca." Jealous words fly between the two women, and Lili prepares to leave, after informing Fred that she is going to be married soon. When she thinks that Lois is going to get the starring role, however, Lili agrees to be in the show. At the final rehearsal, Lois is horrified to learn that her boyfriend, dancer Bill Calhoun, has signed Fred's name to an IOU to cover his gambling debts. Meanwhile, Fred and Lili continue to bicker, and Lili points out that today is the one-year anniversary of their divorce. As they begin to reminisce about their early days as struggling performers, however, tender feelings overtake them, and they kiss. Still shaken, Fred returns to his dressing room to discover Lippy and Slug, collectors for a gangster named Hogan, waiting to discuss the IOU with him. Fred denies any knowledge of the debt, and the thugs leave, vowing to return. Lili receives a bouquet, and, assuming that Fred sent it, is deeply moved. Moments before the show is to begin, Fred asks his valet Paul if he delivered the bouquet to Lois, and is shocked to learn that Lili has it. Fred tries to get the card from the flowers before Lili can read it, but she slips it inside her blouse. The show begins, and right before their first scene together, Lili sneaks a look at the card. When she discovers it is a romantic note to Lois, her fury cannot be contained. After Lili persists in striking Fred, he spanks her in front of the amused audience and bewildered cast members. At intermission, Lili calls her fiancé, Texas cattle baron Tex Callaway, and asks him to come and get her at once. Meanwhile, at Lois' urging, Bill confesses to Fred that he forged his name on the IOU. Lippy and Slug are waiting in Fred's dressing room and, seeing a way to stop Lili from walking out, Fred tells the thugs that he would like to pay them, but will have to close the show if Lili leaves. Eager to protect their employer's investment, Lippy and Slug order Lili at gunpoint to go on with the show. Act II begins, with the costumed Lippy and Slug on stage as Lili's attendants. Tex shows up backstage, and Bill is jealous when he catches the opportunistic Lois flirting with him. Meanwhile, Lippy calls to confer with his boss and learns that Hogan has been shot to death by a rival gangster. With their boss dead and the debt cancelled, Lippy and Slug prepare to leave. Fred expresses his regret to Lili over their failed relationship, but she drives away with Tex. The theater-loving thugs give the despondent Fred a pep talk, and he prepares to perform the finale with the understudy. To Fred's surprise, Lili returns to the stage and delivers Katherine's speech about wifely love and duty with great feeling. Fred joyfully sweeps Lili into his arms as the curtain rings down.