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Marty Ross, a stock clerk in New York's garment district, and his co-worker Georgie spend a weekend vacation at a resort in the Ramapos, where Marty meets Helen, a stenographer from New York. Eager to impress her, Marty lies that he is a graduate of Yale, holds an important job and has grandiose career plans. When Marty attempts to kiss her, Helen tells him that she is engaged to be married, and that she thinks he is a phony. Later, after Marty confesses that he lied and went directly to work after high school, Helen forgives him. During a picnic, they talk about their future plans and Helen begins to fall in love with him. Back in New York, Marty escorts Helen to her apartment, and after they kiss, she tells him that she will break her engagement. Marty then returns to the humble apartment where he lives with his parents and younger sister Francie. Since his business went bankrupt, Marty's father has been working as a night watchman. Marty's mother is ill and would like to be examined by Dr. Webber who, as an intern, helped her when she gave birth to Marty in a charity ward, but now has an expensive practice on Park Avenue. Marty promises his family that he will improve their situation. Later, Helen tells Marty that her family wants her to stay with her steady, unimaginative fiancé. Nevertheless, she assures Marty that she wants to continue with their plan to marry in two months. However, after an efficiency idea proposed by Marty backfires, Marty is fired from his job. He then seeks employment in managerial positions but has no qualifications or experience. Marty ends up trying to sell various products as a door-to-door salesman, but fails miserably. A month away from their wedding day, Helen tells Marty that her mother has relented and agreed to let them move in with her, but Marty feels that if he can get just one good break, he can help everyone. In a pool hall, Marty becomes involved in a dice game with Bosco, a hustler, and although Marty initially wins, he ends up owing Bosco seventy dollars, which he has to pay that evening. Meanwhile, having already postponed their wedding, Helen is becoming disillusioned with Marty and admits that she has been seeing her former fiancé. After Helen tells Marty that he is a dreamer, waiting for a break that will never happen, he accuses her of being just like all the others girls who are looking for a man with a steady job. She agrees that she is and then says that perhaps getting rid of her will result in the opportunity he is looking for. After they break up, Marty wanders around the city alone, but is spotted by Bosco's thugs who chase and catch him. However, Georgie persuades Bosco to give Marty another chance with the dice to clear his debt. This time, Marty wins, and pays off Bosco. Marty then returns home with almost $100 dollars, only to find that his mother has been hospitalized and needs an operation. She will be treated as a charity case unless Marty and his father can hire Dr. Webber, whose fee is $1,500. Unable to talk with Webber on the phone, Marty goes to the hospital, where he poses as a successful importer-exporter and attempts to persuade the male admitting clerk to give his mother a better room and to summon Webber. The clerk refuses until Marty physically threatens him, and then instructs a nurse to phone Webber. Instead, she summons the police and Marty is arrested. Later, when he is released, he finds Helen waiting for him with the news that his mother is probably going to recover. After Helen tries to persuade him that things will work out, Marty tells her that he can only offer her a lot of trouble. However, this truthful statement convinces Helen that she wants to begin again and they leave the police station hand-in-hand to face an uncertain future together.