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On graduation night in Carvel, Judge James K. Hardy receives a telephone call from New York City. Betsy Booth, the wealthy teenaged granddaughter of his neighbor, is curious about the judge's son Andy because she is coming to Carvel and hopes to have a "grown-up" romance with the newly graduated Andy. The next morning, Andy meets Dr. Waggoner, the president of Wainwright, the judge's alma mater, and worries about the seven years of college it will take to become a lawyer. After Andy says goodbye to his high school sweetheart, Polly Benedict, he ponders the future and convinces his parents to allow him to go to New York for the summer to see if he prefers work to college. After driving to the city with Betsy, Andy registers at a single men's hotel and learns about an office boy job at a stocks and bond firm from Jimmy Frobisher, an aspiring dancer who is vacating Andy's room. When applying for the job, Andy meets attractive Jennitt Hicks, a gold digger who gets Andy to buy her perfume and pay her cab fare home. Two weeks later, Andy is still unemployed, but writes his parents that he is working and convinces Jennitt to back him up if anyone calls. One night, Betsy finds Andy in the park, broke, hungry and disheveled, but he refuses her offers of help. After she leaves, Andy runs into Jimmy, who has been reduced to sleeping in the park. Andy sneaks Jimmy into his room, and, after paying the rent, is left with only twenty-five cents. Meanwhile, the kindhearted Betsy calls Judge Hardy to let him know that Andy is broke, and the judge decides to go to New York. A short time later, Jimmy gets a call about a dancing job, and Jennitt tells Andy that he has just gotten the office boy job. The next day she takes him under her wing and even buys him dinner when he passes out from hunger. Returning home that night, Andy finds Jimmy dead. Although it appears at first to be suicide, a doctor later reveals that Jimmy had a weak heart and died after the exertion of his dance audition. Andy pays for Jimmy's funeral with money borrowed on the car he got for graduation. At the office, Andy's boss, Mr. Maddox, is about to fire him for mixing up some letters, but is so impressed with Andy's honesty that he instead gives him tickets to a charity ball. The judge then arrives from Carvel and, after seeing Jennitt, advises Andy to be faithful to the girl whom he may someday marry. The judge goes to see Betsy and they conclude that Andy's infatuation with Jennitt is keeping him from going to college. Determined to keep Andy from being led astray by a "Wolfess," Betsy finds that Jennitt's fox coat was charged to an attorney named Paul McWilliams. Then, posing as the bearer of a singing telegram, Betsy confronts the lawyer. That night, when Andy takes Jennitt home from the charity ball, McWilliams shows up, angry that Jennitt, to whom he was once married, has charged the coat to his account. After McWilliams leaves with the coat, Andy is disillusioned with Jennitt. The next day, Betsy is met at the Carvel station by the judge, who is immediately summoned by garage owner Peter Dugan. There they find Andy working on his old jalopy. Realizing that he is now almost a man, Andy plans to get his new car paid off by working at the garage until September, then follow in his father's footsteps at Wainwright.