powered by AFI
When Charley Bronson, the irascible owner of the Squared Circle ranch, realizes that he has no heir to his estate, he decides to test his two grandnieces, Bostonian Hilda Cartwright and entertainer Laurie Lang, to see who is the most worthy. Charley instructs his attorney, Louis Thurmann, to send each niece a cable, notifying them of their great uncle's death and summoning them to the ranch for the reading of the will. Laurie, who is on a camp tour with her band, The Hoosier Hotshots, takes the train to Texas and there meets her snobbish cousin Hilda. At the ranch, Charley poses as Calico, a kitchen helper, in order to observe his nieces' behavior while the cook, Happy, pretends to be the ranch manager. When Thurmann informs the two women that according to the terms of Charley's will, they must live on the ranch for one month, at the end of which time a committee will determine who will inherit the property, Hilda protests. Hilda treats Charley like a servant until she overhears him discuss the ruse with Happy, and suddenly becomes solicitious of the "kitchen helper's" feelings. Hilda uses her uncle's dislike of entertainers to undermine Laurie, but when she notices that Charley is beginning to appreciate Laurie's talents, she decides to take more drastic measures. Scheming to disinherit her rival, Hilda suggests to Laurie that they stage a special show on the ranch to entertain the service men in the area. Insisting that the show be kept secret from Charley and the others, Hilda offers to send telegrams to Laurie's show-business friends, requesting their appearance in the show. A big barbeque is to be held on the day of the show, and as Charley, unaware of the impending arrival of the performers, waits for his guests to arrive, he is still undecided as to who he will designate as his heir. When one of the ranch hands delivers a bundle of telegrams from Laurie's friends, accepting her invitation to her "dude ranch," Charley becomes furious and orders Laurie to leave the ranch. Still thinking that he is the cook, Laurie fires him, and Charley then reveals his true identity. Laurie, who shares her uncle's hot temper, denounces his deception of posing as the cook and storms off the ranch. After she departs, her band informs Steve Andrews, the ranch foreman, about Laurie's plan to stage a special show for the soldiers. Realizing Hilda's duplicity, Steve instructs Happy to stall Charley from making his announcement until he returns with Laurie. Steve then rides into town, obtains copies of Hilda's cable from the telegraph office and apologizes to Laurie for doubting her. As Laurie and Steve gallop back to the ranch, Happy forestalls Charley's announcement by starting the show. Arriving just as Charley is about to name Hilda as his heir, Steve shows him the telegrams. Charley refuses to believe Hilda's treachery until a real estate agent appears and makes Hilda an offer to buy the Squared Circle. After Laurie tells her uncle her idea to turn the ranch into a recreation center for soldiers, Charley proclaims her as his heir.