powered by AFI
When wealthy Roland Kingston dies, he leaves his estate to his wife Emily and asks her to care for Fella, his young son by his first marriage. Years later, the adult Fella has become a slavey in the Kingston household, while Emily lavishes attention on Rupert and Maximilian, her sons from her first marriage. The bumbling Fella loves his overbearing stepmother and snobbish stepbrothers despite their cruel treatment of him, and is always cheerful. One day, after Emily informs Fella that they will be having a special houseguest, Fella cleans the swimming pool. There, he is only mildly surprised to find a gentlemanly stranger floating about in a rubber raft. The gentleman, who, unknown to Fella, is his Fairy Godfather, is bemused when Fella explains that he is a "people," and that "persons" are people who have been transformed by becoming rich and famous. After Fella states that he feels sorry for persons and never wants to be one, preferring to remain an "ordinary guy," his Godfather is impressed by his sincerity. Soon after, Fella learns that Emily's houseguest is to be Princess Charmein of the Grand Duchy of Monrovia. That evening, when Fella tells Emily, Rupert and Maximilian about the visit from the stranger, who disappeared as suddenly as he appeared, they worry that the princess will think that insanity runs in their family. Fella stubbornly maintains that he saw the man, and also that his nightly dreams in which his father tries to tell him the location of his hidden fortune, are real. Fella always wakes up before his father can reveal the exact location, however. When Fella leaves, Emily tells her sons that Roland did hide a treasure for him. The boys are worried that Emily's spending on the princess will bankrupt them, although she assures them that their problems will be solved if the womanizing Rupert marries Charmein. Rather than leave their fate in Rupert's hands, Maximilian suggests that they ingratiate themselves with Fella and learn his secret about where his father's money is hidden. Emily agrees and during dinner, their unusual attentions thrill Fella, especially when his stepbrothers invite him to play sports the next day. As Rupert and Maximilian have schemed, Fella is so exhausted by the exercise that he falls asleep immediately afterward and talks aloud as he dreams of his father. The brothers eavesdrop as Fella follows his father's directions to the money, but Fella's dream instructs him to shove them off the roof instead. The next day, Fella, locked in his attic room during Charmein's arrival, is amazed when his Fairy Godfather materializes and explains who he is. The Godfather is unable to convince Fella at first, especially when he claims that he was in charge of Cinderella's "case." To prove his assertion, the Godfather summons the lovely Cinderella. After Cinderella disappears, Fella swears his belief in the Godfather, who then explains that Fella has been chosen to right the wrongs caused by Cinderella's legend. The Godfather notes that for centuries, women have been awaiting a Prince Charming, and when he does not appear, they marry the first available man, then nag him incessantly because he does not measure up to their ideals. Fella has been chosen to marry Charmein, thereby giving married men the opportunity to tell their wives that if any ordinary guy can marry a princess, the wives should be happy that their husbands chose them. Later, Fella and the Godfather sneak up to the patio where Charmein and Rupert are dancing. After Fella crawls forward to take a closer look at his future wife, Rupert inadvertently steps on his fingers. Fella screams, but the noise is masked by a yell from Emily, who has been spying on the couple from a balcony and is now in danger of falling off it. Maximilian saves his mother from falling but then tumbles himself into the goldfish pond below. As Rupert helps Maximilian, Charmein is startled by Fella's disheveled appearance, but Fella runs away before she can learn his identity. Later, as Emily, Rupert and Maximilian prepare for the ball they are hosting for Charmein, they see Fella wearing his father's oversized tuxedo. When Fella states that he is going to alter the tuxedo for the ball, Emily snaps that he is not invited and orders him to return the suit to the cellar. Fella complies but as he tends to the furnace, angrily declares that he is tired of being a nice guy and longs to be a "person." The Godfather appears and reprimands Fella for his lack of faith, then tells him that they have much work to do. Meanwhile, at the ball, Rupert monopolizes the princess until the appearance of Count Basie and his band, which draws the jazz-loving Charmein to the bandstand. As she is enjoying the music, she gazes at the grand staircase, down which the dapper Fella is strutting. Fella, who has been aged slightly by the Godfather to disguise him, sweeps Charmein onto the floor for an exuberant dance, and the couple falls in love. While waltzing, however, Fella confesses to Charmein that he is a "phony" and, hearing the clock beginning to strike midnight, panics and runs off. As Charmein clutches one of his loafers, which has fallen off his foot, Fella dashes to his fabulous, golden car. On the drive home, Fella urges the gold-colored chauffeur to hurry, for if they do not return before the last stroke of midnight, the car will transform back into Fella's bicycle, and the silent chauffeur will become a goldfish. Although the transformation takes place, and Fella is again wearing his father's tuxedo, which the Godfather had magically changed into his glorious ball clothes, Fella succeeds in returning the goldfish to his pond. Fella is surprised by Maximilian, who recognized him at the ball, and, now believing that Fella must be rich in order to afford his clothes, demands that he reveal the location of his father's money. When Maximilian threatens him, Fella, emboldened by his love for Charmein, reveals that he has always known where the money is, then tugs a tree limb. A massive fortune in coins then spills forth from a knothole in the tree, knocking Maximilian unconscious. Soon after, Emily and her sons, now penniless, prepare to leave the mansion, but Fella presents them with his money and tells them that they no longer have to be bothered with his presence. Touched by Fella's nobility, Emily apologizes to him and prevents Rupert and Maximilian from pocketing the cash. As Fella begins to ride away on his bicycle, he is approached by Charmein, who reveals that she has his shoe. Although the princess confesses her love for him, Fella insists that their relationship could not work because she is a "person," while he is a "people." The tearful princess rips her dress to show that she looks like an ordinary girl when in regular clothes, but Fella rides off alone. As she slowly walks up the driveway, Charmein turns back and sees Fella returning to her. Taking her in his arms, Fella waltzes with her into the ballroom, and they dance as balloons and confetti fill the air.