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On the night that aviator Charles Lindbergh is to conclude his historic transatlantic flight in Paris, journalists Pat Wells and Sam Colt get drunk together at the Brass Monkey bar, a well-known "watering hole" for American ex-patriots. Although a world-class reporter, Sam, who lost an arm while flying for the French in World War I, is also known as a champion drinker and womanizer. In addition, Sam takes professional advantage of the younger, less experienced Pat, who idolizes him, and treats Julie Bell, a pretty American tourist who adores him, with indifference. After Lindbergh finally lands in Paris, Sam outsmarts his journalistic competition at the airport and then celebrates his victory with Julie. While drunk, Sam proposes to a willing Julie, but leaves the next morning for an assignment in China without saying goodbye to her. Although crushed by Sam's callousness, Julie resolves to stay in Paris and secures a job as a fashion writer. While spending her free hours at the Brass Monkey, Julie quietly yearns for Sam's return and repeatedly turns down the proposals of the irresponsible Pat, who has long loved her. Eventually, however, Julie becomes involved with Rex Fleming, an American stockbroker and golf enthusiast. One day, news of Sam's death at the hands of Chinese bandits hits the Brass Monkey, and Julie and Pat find themselves drowning their sorrows together. Against the advice of Cassie, the commerical artist with whom she works and lives, Julie once again rejects Pat and accepts Rex's proposal to marry and return to America. At the same time, Julie learns that a rich American tourist she once met was caught and fined $9,000 by customs officials and suspects that a countryman informed on her to collect a $2,000 reward. When Cassie alerts Pat to Julie's impending departure, Pat shows up at Julie's apartment without his pants and pretends to be her lover. Shocked by this apparent revelation about Julie's character, Rex breaks their engagement and storms away in a huff. After his departure, Pat calms an enraged Julie, but then rouses her suspicions when he reveals that he has acquired a load of cash. Julie accuses Pat of being the customs informant, but is shamed when he proves that he earned the money by selling a short story. Finally convinced that Pat has transformed himself into a responsible, sober adult, Julie accepts his engagement ring. She is unaware, however, that Cassie has just received a telegram from Sam, who is on his way to Paris, having escaped from his Chinese torturers. On the day that Pat and Julie are to marry, Sam staggers into the Brass Monkey, disheveled and near death. Without revealing their engagement, Pat and Julie put Sam in the hospital and pay for his life-saving operation. While he recuperates, Sam realizes he loves Julie and tells Pat he plans to give up his globetrotting to marry her. Pat finally confesses his own love to Sam, after which Cassie berates Sam for selfishly pursuing Julie. Stung by Cassie's words, Sam tries to convince Julie he is still a heartless cad, but she sees through his pretense and tells him that she truly loves Pat and intends to marry him. After Sam is comforted by an appreciative Cassie, he announces that he is headed for the South Pole with Admiral Byrd.