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Among the guests at a surprise birthday party for wealthy bachelor Thomas Rufus Collier, III in 1939, are his lawyer Owen Arthur and beautiful social climber Cecelia Henry, who has set her cap for Tom. The party is in full swing when photographer Christie Sage and her assistant, Franc Connors, arrive at Tom's Connecticut home to snap some photographs for the society pages. Despite Cecelia's efforts to captivate Tom, he leaves the party and hitches a ride back to New York with Christie and Franc. When they are not free-lancing for society magazines, Christie and Franc, together with composer Joseph Baronova, his wife Illa, a critic, and Jim Fisk, the son of an English baronet, publish The Bantam , a liberal magazine. Tom learns that the magazine is on the verge of bankruptcy and decides to purchase it. Although Tom's father Rufus is displeased that his son has invested in a liberal publication instead of joining the family firm, he believes that Tom will eventually lose interest in the magazine. Instead, Tom falls in love with Christie, but when he proposes, she turns him down, saying that as a poor woman with liberal politics she would not fit into his life, and adding that she does not love him. Christie resigns from the magazine and travels to Mexico with Franc and, on the rebound, Tom begins to date Cecelia. Despite the misgivings of Tom's friend and butler, the disheveled Pat Regan, Tom soon marries Cecelia. Rufus offers the newlyweds a substantial check as a wedding gift, but when he suggests that Tom give up The Bantam in exchange, Tom returns the check. Without Tom's knowledge, Cecelia convinces Rufus to give the check to her and, in return, she will try to bring Tom around to his point of view. Some time later, Christie returns from Mexico, and not knowing that Tom has married, telegraphs him to meet her at the airport. There, before he can say anything, Christie concedes that she has always loved him, but this time, it is Tom who must destroy her hopes. Determined to install Tom in his father's good graces in order to have access to his fortune, Cecelia maneuvers Tom into missing the opening of Christie's photography exhibition and convinces him to fire Pat. Later, Jim buys a story about the selling of defective wiring to the Army by a company called Albany Copper and warns Tom that the exposé may send many of his friends to jail. Despite this, Tom agrees to publish the story, but when Cecelia discloses that Rufus secretly owns most of the company, he drops the article. One day, while Tom is away, Christie visits Cecelia and reveals that, having written the article on Albany Copper, she knows Rufus is not liable for selling the defective wiring and demands that Cecelia tell Tom the truth. Cecelia refuses, but later that evening, Pat, who overheard Cecelia plotting with Rufus, discloses Cecelia's duplicity to Tom. Tom confronts Cecelia with the information, and when she admits that she does not want children, Tom leaves her. Later, after Cecelia departs for Reno and a divorce, Tom and Christie face a happy future together.