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Nora Taylor and Maggie Ryan run a boardinghouse furnished with and peopled by relics. When the bank threatens to foreclose on the mortgage unless they pay their back taxes, Nora, who lives her life through the little stories she makes up, has confidence that Maggie's daughter Sarah Jane, an aspiring singer, will become a big success and save the house. Nora's dream is shattered when the feisty Sarah appears broke, after having been fired from her sixth job in a row. With Sarah unemployed, their last hope becomes Nora's son Tommy, a struggling young composer who has been away for five years. Tommy has more trouble than he can handle, however, when his boss, gambler Chips Maguire who is wanted for the murder of a mobster, implicates Tommy in the murder and then demands that Tommy hide him at his mother's boardinghouse. Thus, Tommy returns home with Chips, whom he introduces as Mr. Grasselli, a man with a nervous condition who needs complete privacy. While cleaning Chips' room one day, Nora confides to him her latest story in which Tommy becomes a great composer and Sarah, a famous singer, and they fall in love. Later, when Sarah hears Tommy playing the composition he has written, she suggests that they team up, but Tommy, tormented by the threat of Chips turning him in for murder, rejects the idea. However, when Sarah recognizes Chips as the gambler Chips Maguire who is wanted for murder, she determines to maneuver him into providing financial backing for them. Chips offers the backing himself when, bored by his confinement, he learns that Nora and Maggie have only twenty-four hours to pay their taxes and suggests turning the boardinghouse into a gay nineties club. On opening night, one of the boarders becomes tipsy and tips the police to Chips's whereabouts. When the officers appear to arrest him, Chips, swayed by Nora and Maggie's kindness, has a change of heart and clears Tommy by accepting the blame himself. With the success of the club, Nora's story all comes true as Tommy and Sarah achieve recognition for their talents and fall in love.