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Three generations of the Frink family, Grandma Amelia, Joe and Hattie and their children, Emmett, a left-wing lawyer; Lucille, a singing student who cannot carry a tune; and Norman, a juvenile delinquent with aspirations to boxing, all live together in a small New York apartment. Hattie does her best to keep the family going without help from anyone else in the family, least of all her husband Joe, an alcoholic newspaperman who cannot keep a job. Oliver Gilfin, who is from a nice middle class family, is one of Lucille's suitors, but despite Hattie's preference for him, Lucille is only interested in Benny Lopez, a crooked promoter who promises her an audition at a radio station. Hattie's sacrifices and hard work go unnoticed by her constantly complaining family who do not even remember her on Mother's Day. Life is difficult enough and then long-lost Uncle Newt Frink, Grandma's brother, arrives from New Zealand, planning to stay with the family. Although he claims to be waiting for his money to arrive from New Zealand, in the meantime Newt contributes nothing to the family expenses. Pressed for money, Hattie secretly takes a job in the afternoons. Loyal Hattie is the only family member present when Uncle Newt cooks a special dinner in honor of his birthday and dies after overeating. On Christmas Eve, everyone in the family has plans, despite Hattie's wishes that the family stay home together. Fed up, Hattie bursts into tears, finally expressing her feelings that she is unappreciated. The family is in an uproar when a lawyer arrives with Newt's will. Newt, who really was wealthy, has left everything to Hattie on the condition that she no longer associate with her family. Hattie immediately leaves, but although for the first time in her life she is able to pamper herself, she is lonely without her family. Her maid Camille calls a gigolo, Ramon Alvarez, to accompany her dancing. Ramon has a gold-digging girl friend who is leaving for Palm Beach, so he convinces Hattie that they should go as well. Back at the Frinks', everything is falling apart, and finally realizing just how important Hattie was to them, Grandma determines to get Hattie to return. Oliver puts his foot down as well, insisting that Lucille marry him and leave with him for Europe. Surprised by this new masterful Oliver, Lucille agrees. The entire family then goes after Hattie and find her at the airport, boarding the plane with Ramon. Delighted to see them, Hattie leaves Ramon and returns with her newly appreciative family.