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Strong-willed printing press operator John Hodges is distraught when his firm, Acme Printing Services, forces him to retire after he turns sixty-five years old. John returns from his last day of work to the home he shares with his gabby son George, scatterbrained daughter-in-law Della and beloved granddaughter Alice, but none of them are interested in his predicament. The next day, John examines his retirement notice closely, and upon learning that Acme is a subsidiary of Consolidated Motors, goes to question Joe Elliot, Alice's fiance and Acme's assistant head of personnel. Neither Joe, his co-worker, Frank Erickson, nor their boss, Horace Gallagher, knows who the head of Consolidated is, but John finally learns from a librarian that tycoon Harold P. Cleveland leads the company. Realizing that no one at Acme has met Cleveland, John decides that a bit of subterfuge may make them change their retirement policy. John sends Acme's president, Louis McKinley, a letter announcing the imminent arrival of Cleveland for an inspection of the factory, which throws McKinley, Gallagher and the other executives into a panic. On the day of "Cleveland's" arrival, John dyes his white hair and beard black, dresses in a suit and meets McKinley at the train station, where, because McKinley has never even seen a photo of Cleveland, he accepts John as the tycoon. While touring the factory, John runs into Joe and alerts him to his imposture with a wink, but Erickson refuses to believe Joe's claim that "Cleveland" is his sweetheart's grandfather. At the end of the tour, John expresses his disappointment that Acme has fired the older workers, who are the artisans of the printing craft, and his eloquence convinces McKinley to dictate a memo to his curvaceous secretary Harriet, ordering the re-hiring of the retirees. Assuming that his mission is accomplished, John tries to leave, but McKinley whisks him off to a luncheon with the Chamber of Commerce, where "Cleveland" gives a moving speech about the contributions older workers can make to the stability of the country. That night, Joe visits the Hodges and shows them a newspaper story about "Cleveland's" speech, including a photograph, but they refuse to believe that it is really John. Meanwhile, McKinley takes John to his home for dinner, and there, John meets McKinley's lonely wife Lucille and their teenage son Willie. After dinner, John accompanies the McKinleys to the country club, where he spends an intoxicating evening dancing with Lucille while McKinley stews upon noticing Harriet on a date with Gallagher. Unused to admiration, Lucille becomes infatuated with John, and upon her return home, informs McKinley that she wants a divorce. On the other side of town, John also returns home, and his family is stunned to see his dyed hair and realize that Joe was telling the truth. George and Della are afraid that John will be arrested, but Alice is thrilled by his brave actions, and Joe promises not to turn him in, although he worries that Erickson might. The next day, in New York City, the real Cleveland is swamped with telegrams, newspaper stories and radio broadcasts congratulating him on his inspiring speech. While Cleveland's executives bemoan the sticky situation, Cleveland decides that he admires the imposter's ideas and wants to find him. Two special investigators for Consolidated then inform McKinley that he has been taken in by a fraud, and McKinley bitterly anticipates telling Lucille that she has fallen in love with a confidence man. Meanwhile, Erickson also pursues the matter and tells McKinley that John is the imposter, although McKinley orders him to keep the matter a secret. Consolidated stock rises so sharply, however, that Cleveland's executives realize that John's subterfuge cannot be revealed or they will be accused of tampering with the stock market. While Cleveland makes plans to meet John, McKinley tells Lucille the truth about her "dream man," although he does apologize for ignoring her. Lucille rushes off, while at the Hodges home, Joe announces that he has received a promotion, as Gallagher thinks Erickson is a "nut case" for insisting that John is Cleveland. Lucille then arrives, but when she informs John that she has left McKinley, he gently tells her that she is being too impulsive and advises her to admit that she really does love her husband. The next unexpected arrival is Cleveland, who is delighted to meet his charming imposter, and assures him that he will not be arrested. McKinley then bursts in, begs Lucille to return home with him, and fires John. After McKinley and Lucille leave, Cleveland asks John to work with him in New York, but John refuses, stating that he could never leave his family. Cleveland then assures John that he will get his printing job back, and asks him to send along any further ideas for speeches.