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Victoria and Martin Scott live in Santa Rita, California with their mother Marjorie; Angie, the housekeeper; and Angie's granddaughter Dooley. Marjorie, who has supported her children since they were small by working as an interior decorator, is now being courted by wealthy Philip Ames. Marty, who intends to go to Princeton, is in favor of Marjorie's marriage to Philip, and Philip willingly buys him a car to cement their alliance. Vicki, on the other hand, dislikes Philip, whom she regards as a snob. Unknown to the children, their father MacKenzie is not dead, as they believe, but has been in prison for thirteen years for a crime he did not commit. Marjorie visits him there to tell him of Philip's marriage proposal. Mac has been pardoned, but when he hears that Marjorie has a chance to marry a man who can give his children financial security, he does not tell her about the pardon and advises her to go ahead with the marriage. Before she leaves the prison, Marjorie hears the prison orchestra play a beautiful song, which the warden tells her was composed by Mac. After Mac is paroled, he travels to Santa Rita to catch a glimpse of his children. As he passes by the house, Vicki is practicing on an old, out-of-tune piano. Mac offers to tune it for the price of a song, and Vicki, who immediately takes a liking to Mac, happily obliges. When Marjorie and Philip arrive, Mac quietly disappears from the room, but later accepts the offer of a job and a place to stay made by Marty's friend, a local fisherman named Joe Borelli. On Vicki's birthday, Philip buys her a new piano to replace the old one, which belonged to her father, but instead of being pleased, Vicki bursts into sentimental tears. She also receives a book of old Italian songs from Joe. Visiting Joe to thank him for the gift, she hears Mac playing her old piano. When she learns that Mac has formed an orchestra with some musicians from the cannery, she enthusiastically offers to sing with them. Meanwhile, Marty is pursued by sexy Lolita, who is interested in his new wealth. Both Joe and Mac try to warn him about her, but he takes offense and ignores them. One day, Marjorie overhears Vicki singing Mac's song, and realizes that he is in town. Marjorie meets with Mac, but he refuses to let her change her plans to marry, explaining that he will leave town that night. Marjorie then tells Philip the truth about Mac, but Philip still wants to marry her. When Vicki learns that Mac is her father, however, she decides to run away with him. In the meantime, Marty is threatened at knife point by Frank, Lolita's boyfriend. Mac defends his son and misses the boat to San Diego. Believing her father to be on the boat, Vicki takes Philip's speedboat and chases after it, despite an oncoming storm. Mac and Marty rescue her and return to the docks where Marjorie and Philip are waiting. Despite his protests, the family insists that Mac remain with them, and Philip graciously releases Marjorie from their engagement. Shortly thereafter, Mac's band announces that they have won an audition, and the band members are happy to learn that Mac will be in town to work with them.