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In 1932, actor Emery Slade attends the Hollywood premiere of his new film, The Snob , at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and leaves his footprints and signature in the cement in the forecourt. By 1949, Slade is a has-been but is recognized, walking around the Chinese's forecourt, by fellow actor Jean Hersholt. Emery tells Jean that he has been very busy, but Jean is not fooled and, at a board meeting of the Motion Picture Aid Society of which he is president, raises the issue of how the Society might help Emery, who is about to be evicted and has pawned all his possessions. The board members create an uproar at the mention of Emery's name and relate unfavorable incidents involving him. However, Sharkey, a representative from the Twentieth Century-Fox studio, thinks that his boss, Melville Crossman, might be able to put Emery to work. When Barker, another board member, pays a visit to Emery at the rundown Paradise Gardens bungalow court, Emery haughtily rejects the Society's offer of help and throws him out. In the meantime, at Twentieth Century-Fox, Crossman is concerned because he has a start date for a picture, Bandwagon , but no leading lady. Sharkey suggests casting Broadway star Rosalie Brooks but is reminded that her father Joe will not allow her to work in movies as he once lost a vaudeville partner to Hollywood. Sharkey thinks that the former partner, Emery, might be able to persuade Joe to change his mind, and Crossman goes along with the idea. Emery flies to New York with Bill Davis, the studio's top public relations man, whom Emery treats as a servant, on the pretext of looking for an unknown actress to star in the film. Bill's former girl friend, Julie Clarke, who had been under contract at the studio but was let go, shows up at the hotel where they are staying to audition for Emery, but he is out. Bill wants her to marry him, but she has been taking acting and voice classes and really wants to succeed as an actress. Although Bill tells her that the press stories about the studio looking for an unknown actress are phony, Julie decides to return later to see Emery. During dinner at the Stork Club, Emery promotes Bandwagon to Rosalie and Joe, and they all but agree to sign the contract. Later, Julie returns and sings for Emery, and also performs a scene from Cyrano de Bergerac with him. He is impressed enough to ask to see her dance the next morning at a rehearsal hall. Julie tells him that she is from Springfield, Massachusetts, where Emery once played. At a meeting that afternoon with Rosalie and Joe, Emery backs away from the deal, telling them that the picture is no good and that it would not advance Rosalie's career. He also tells them that the studio has offered him a contract if he can sign Rosalie, but he feels that he cannot double-cross them. Joe thanks him for his honesty and integrity. Later, Bill realizes that they still do not have a signed contract with Rosalie, but Emery assures him that he intends to introduce the star at a press reception. Bill is stunned when Emery introduces Julie, but she is very well received and the trio heads back to Hollywood. However, Crossman fires Emery and Bill for not delivering Rosalie and plans to send Julie back East until the New York office calls to report that the press is raving about her. Crossman agrees to do a screen test and Julie records several songs. While on the scoring stage Julie tells Emery that her father deserted her late mother before she was born and she wants to succeed to show her father, no matter where he is, that they did not need him then and she does not need him now. In Emery's office, Julie spots a commemorative cup presented to him in 1925 on the occasion of his final performance with a Springfield stock company and realizes that Emery is her father. Devastated, Julie rejects Emery's help and calls off the test. When Crossman finds out that Emery could have signed Rosalie, he fires Emery, Bill and Julie. However, Bill decides to shoot a test of Julie with his own money and "borrows" the playback recordings Julie has already made. Meanwhile, Emery works on persuading Julie not to return to New York by challenging her to do the test. Bill lines up a costumer, cameraman and editor and Emery directs the test. Later, Bill tricks the projectionist at Grauman's Chinese into including the test as part of the newsreel being screened at the premiere of Prince of Foxes . Julie's dance number is very well received, and Crossman congratulates all concerned and asks Emery to direct Bandwagon . Julie, now reconciled with her father, agrees that he should direct her.