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James Gannon, the hard-boiled city editor of the New York Evening Chronicle , has little regard for higher education, having never attended high school himself. When Edna Kovac asks Jim to fire her son Barney, a copy boy at the newspaper, so that he will return to school, the gruff editor refuses, arguing that Barney will receive an education in his newsroom that is superior to what is offered by any university. Later, Lloyd Crowley, the managing editor of the Evening Chronicle , calls Jim into his office, upset that he has rebuffed an invitation to speak before a night journalism course being taught by Erica Stone. Learning that Col. J. L. Ballentine, the paper's publisher, is on the board of trustees of the university, Jim reluctantly goes to the school that night to apologize. Before he can tell Erica who he is, however, she reads aloud Jim's insulting letter to her class, in which he refers to such courses as "a waste of time." In rebuttal, Erica tells her class that Jim is one of the "unpressed gentlemen of the press," a relic of bygone era of journalism. Days later, Jim is still fuming over the experience and taking it out on everyone in his newsroom. He then decides to return to Erica's class, and, in order to show up the instructor, enrolls in the class under the alias "Jim Gallagher." Much to his chagrin, Erica immediately recognizes Jim's writing skills and praises his work to the class. Attracted to the beautiful teacher, Jim decides to continue his ruse after Erica refuses to speak to him when he calls her using his real name. Later, Erica asks him to stay after class, but an amorous Jim is disappointed to learn that it is merely to give him more challenging assignments. Hating the type of "think piece" Erica wants him to write, Jim dispenses his "home work" onto Harold Miller, a college graduate working the night shift at the Evening Chronicle . Meanwhile, Jim begins his own investigative reporting on Dr. Hugo Pine, a professor of psychology and prolific author who is dating Erica. Disheartened to learn that Hugo is both brilliant and handsome, Jim decides to give up his quest for Erica's affection, though he takes her breath away with a goodbye kiss. By chance, Jim and his date, Peggy Defore, later run into Erica and Hugo at the Bongo Club, a nightclub where Peggy sings and dances in a scanty costume. Despite Jim's various attempts to show-up the professor, Hugo bests him at every turn, even out-drinking the newspaperman. Offering to help the inebriated Jim get into a taxi, Hugo then makes the mistake of taking a deep breath of fresh air and passes out. After putting Hugo to bed, Jim and Erica share a cab, and a kiss, on the way to her place. There, Jim learns that Erica is the daughter of the late Joel Barlow Stone, the Pulitzer-Prize winning editor and publisher of The Eureka Bulletin . Suddenly feeling more ashamed than romantic, Jim leaves the apartment without saying a word. The next morning, Jim confesses all to the hung over Hugo, who advises him to tell Erica the truth before she learns it from someone else. Arriving at the newspaper, Jim is called into Ballentine's office, where Erica is waiting to meet with "James Gannon," in hopes she can convince the city editor to hire her student, "Jim Gallagher." As she leaves the building, Erica chastises Jim, not for the emotional hurt he has given her, but for the time she took away from her real students to work with him. Later, Jim fires Barney, telling him that he does not want to condemn the young lad to a life like his, always excusing himself from rooms when the conversation enters a topic other than newspapers. Back at Hugo's apartment, the professor assures Jim that he is a highly educated man, having acquired his knowledge through experience, not formal education, and even grants the newspaperman an ad hoc degree in liberal arts. Erica then arrives and Hugo convinces her that Jim is a shattered man. Instead, Jim, who does not realize Erica is there, enters the room reborn, telling Hugo he now knows he is a good journalist after reading some copies of The Bulletin , as it is "one of the lousiest papers" he has ever read. Seeing Erica, Jim apologizes, but tells her that he was simply being honest and challenges her to test her father's paper against the standards of modern journalism. That night, Erica edits her cherished father's work and realizes that Jim is right. The next morning, Jim is once again called into Ballentine's office, where Erica is waiting with the suggestion that she and the city editor co-teach her class. In turn, Ballentine tells Erica that Jim himself had just suggested that the paper do more "think pieces." As the reunited couple heads off to lunch, Jim is thanked by Edna for helping Barney. In turn, he insists that her son report back to work the Monday after his graduation. While the newsroom watches in amazement as Jim and Erica go off together, someone questions what the two might have in common. Roy, Jim's assistant, responds: "If I know Jim, he'll find something."