powered by AFI
At a New York literary reception given by flighty Bridget Drake, journalist Jimmy Lee, who has been working in California for some time, proposes to novelist Mary Howard, unaware that during his absence, Mary has fallen in love with another man. Her friends have not seen much of Mary lately, and Jimmy notices that she seems more serious and dedicated to her work. When her new publisher, the sophisticated, intellectual Rogers Woodruf shows up, Jimmy knows that he has met his rival. A few days later, Jimmy goes to Mary's house and comments on the amount of time she spends with Rogers, who is married. He also angers her by saying that her unfinished book, which is about a woman having an affair with a married man, is vulgar and unrealistic. While they are arguing, Bridgie arrives with her decorator friend, Walter Del Canto, and invites Mary to stay at her house in the country. Mary then discreetly asks Bridgie to invite Rogers for the weekend for "business." After Jimmy and Bridgie leave, Mary asks for advice about her protagonist from Rogers, who has just arrived, and tells him her idea that the woman confront her lover's wife. That evening, at a dinner party that Jimmy attends as an "extra man," he meets Rogers' wife Clare, not knowing at first who she is. Jimmy likes the charming and attractive Clare and feels badly when he realizes that her husband has not told her about Mary. Later, a drunken Jimmy shows up at Mary's and interrupts her in an embrace with Rogers. During his ramblings, he tells Rogers that he has just met Clare and that she has invited him to go sailing. On the weekend, while Rogers goes to Bridgie's house to see Mary, Jimmy and Clare go sailing, then Jimmy secretly calls Rogers' office, claiming to be a well-known author that Rogers wants to sign, and says that he needs to speak with Rogers right away. When Rogers' office gives him the message, he leaves, promising to return that evening. A short time later Jimmy, accompanied by an unsuspecting Clare, arrives claiming that he is lost, and Bridgie invites them for dinner. Jimmy tells Clare that he needs her to make Mary jealous and she goodnaturedly agrees. As part of his ruse, he introduces her as "Mrs. Clare" so that Mary will not know her real identity. Later, because lightning has caused a tree to fall, blocking their car, Clare and Jimmy must spend the night. During the evening, Mary comes to like and admire Clare, who confesses that her husband has had many women since their marriage but always comes back to her when his interest in his infatuations wanes. She also confesses that she is worried because he has recently become involved with someone who may be "the real thing." When Mary casually mentions the name of her publisher, Clare knows that Mary is the woman. Just then Rogers returns and is shocked to see Clare. When Mary realizes who Clare is, she is shattered, and the three discuss the details of Mary's book, which has become a metaphor for their own lives. Then, while Rogers goes to Jimmy's room to confront him about his subterfuge, Mary orders a taxi to return to town. In the living room, Mary and Clare talk and Mary confesses that she regrets hurting Clare. After Clare leaves the room, Rogers enters and tells Mary that he has never told anyone the truth, not even Clare. He also confesses that he now knows that his love for Clare is greater than his love for her. Mary realizes that she has been a fool to take their relationship for anything other than it was. When Bridgie and the others come into the living room, Mary runs off, crying. While Clare awaits her cab, Rogers tells her how much she means to her, but she tells him that she has finally stopped loving him because, after meeting Mary, she knows how cruel he has been. After Clare leaves, Jimmy advises the remorseful Rogers to go after her. Finally, after Bridgie and Walter retire, Mary and Jimmy kiss.