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Carvel Judge James K. Hardy and his family, including his wife Emily, sister-in-law Milly, daughter Marian and son Andrew, are looking forward to having a wonderful summer vacation together. Although each family member seems to favor a different vacation spot, the judge is looking forward to fishing for swordfish off Santa Catalina Island, and he eventually convinces the rest of the family to go there. Just prior to leaving, Judge Hardy co-signs a note for some land for Frank Redman, editor of the Carvel paper. At Catalina, while the judge readies his new fishing equipment, the children pursue their own interests. Marian is fascinated with a wealthy lifeguard named Bill Rand who is separated from his wife and very "wild." Andy starts to spend time with teenager Geraldine "Jerry" Lane, whose mother has been divorced four times and who seems to have little regard for family life. While Marian tries to decide whom she prefers, Bill or Wayne Trent, her hometown boyfriend, Andy realizes that he needs money to keep up with Jerry and other rich friends. Not wanting Andy to be influenced by wild companions, Judge Hardy goes to see Jerry, who thinks that he is trying to pick her up. That night, the judge tells Andy not to see Jerry any more because she is too fast for him, but Andy angrily leaves their cabin after accusing his father of being too old fashioned. He thinks about what his father has said, though, then tells Jerry that he does not want to see her anymore, after which he makes up with the judge. Meanwhile, Marian has been seeing a lot of Bill, who asks her to marry him "after my divorce." When Marian comes home drunk that night and tells her father about Bill, the judge warns her about society's view of divorce, but invites Bill to go on a beach trip with them the next day. During the trip, in a game, Bill is put "on trial" and admits that he only considered Marian as a "vacation romance" and is not really separated from his wife. He then decides that it would be best to leave, and Marian is crushed. A short time later, the judge catches the swordfish he has wanted, but has little time to enjoy his trophy because he soon receives a telegram informing him that Redman cannot meet the payments for the note. Shaken because he now has to come up with money to cover the loan, Judge Hardy immediately takes the family home and learns that Redman has swindled him. Just when it appears that they will lose everything, including their house, the Judge remembers that his grandfather was a Civil War veteran who received government script for his service. The judge then flies to the capitol and, upon returning to Carvel reveals that by terms of the government script, it could be used to buy land, thus he has bought the land himself. With their financial problems settled, the Hardys return to their daily lives.