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Having just completed a three-year scientific expedition into the Belgian Congo to locate a rare snake, George "Hotsy" Hamilton II, an ophiologist and heir to the Hamilton meat-packing fortune, and Marty Kennedy, his valet, guardian and best friend, head home to Bridgewood, Connecticut. Aboard the luxury cruise ship, S.S. Southern Queen , the highly eligible George attracts the unsolicited attentions of numerous single women, especially Jean Harris, a beautiful cardsharp who is traveling with her con-artist father, Patrick Henry "Handsome Harry" Harris, and his partner, Gerald. After intentionally tripping the clumsy heir and causing him to break the heel of her shoe, Jean soon has George alone in her suite, where the bumbling scientist is little match for her feminine wiles. Despite her original intent to swindle George out of a small fortune, Jean finds herself falling in love with the innocent heir, and she tells her father that she intends to marry George and go straight. Harry insists on winning back his losses from an earlier bridge game with George, but in Jean's absence, he instead swindles his future son-in-law out of $32,000. That night, George proposes to Jean, but before she can confess her criminal past, Marty informs the ophiologist that the Harrises are well-known con-artists. The heartbroken George then breaks his engagement to Jean, pretending that he had known the truth about the thieves all along and was only amusing himself with her. Adding insult to injury, Harry accidentally drops the $32,000 check into George's hands as the ship docks, and George proceeds to tear it up in front of the helpless thieves. Later, at a New England racetrack, the Harrises run into their old friend and fellow con-artist, Frenchie, who tells them that he is now using the name "Jacques Duc de Montaigne" in order to swindle the snobbish upper classes in his new home of Bridgewood. Seeing a chance to even the score with George, Jean pretends to be Frenchie's cousin, the countess Louise. Horace Hamilton, George's domineering father, immediately holds a party in honor of the visiting French royalty, and although Marty recognizes the Harrises, George is completely taken in, arguing that the resemblance between Jean and Louise is too obvious to be anything but a coincidence. Later, Harry tells George that the couple he met on the ocean liner are the "black sheep" of his family, and he pleads with George to keep secret the existence of his crooked brother and niece. Once again, George falls for Jean's charms, and the two are quickly married. On their wedding night, however, Jean tells George fanciful stories of her numerous love affairs and children, only to have Marty arrive and expose the entire charade. A shattered George then leaves his new bride, telling Marty that he wants to return to Africa. Realizing that the innocent George had previously lied about his playboy lifestyle, Jean confesses to Harry that she is still in love with her husband. Back aboard the S.S. Southern Queen , George is once again tripped by Jean, and though he still loves her, tells her that he is now married. Jean informs him that she is recently married as well. As they enter his stateroom, George proclaims that he knew "it was the same girl all the time."