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Among the socially prominent citizens of San Francisco are Matt Drayton, the publisher of a liberal newspaper, and his wife, Christina, the owner of a fashionable art gallery. One day their daughter, Joey, returns from a vacation in Hawaii with John Prentice, a black physician whom she has known for only 10 days but intends to marry. Because John must leave the next day for Switzerland on behalf of the World Health Organization, Joey is determined that their wedding take place immediately, and she asks for her parents' permission. Furthermore, John secretly confides to the Draytons that he will not marry Joey without their consent. Suddenly confronted with a test of their longtime liberal beliefs, Matt and Christina find themselves unable to reach a decision. Less involved observers, however, quickly voice their opinions: Christina's business associate, Hilary St. George, is quick to reveal her bigotry; an old family friend, Monsignor Ryan, is confident that the couple will be able to overcome their obstacles; and the Draytons' shocked black maid, Tillie, berates John for his impertinence. Though Christina yields to her daughter's wishes, Matt remains undecided. The dilemma is compounded when Joey persuades John's parents to fly up from Los Angeles. Upon their arrival, Mrs. Prentice sides with Christina; but her husband is dubious about the situation and argues with his son. Mrs. Prentice appeals to Matt recalling the days when they stood on the threshold of a youthful marriage. Realizing that the decision rests with the children, he finally offers Joey and John his blessing; moved by the wisdom of Matt's words, Mr. Prentice also relents.