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Marine veteran Norwood Pratt returns to Ralph, Texas, to live with his sister Vernell and brother-in-law Bill Bird. Although his ambition is to be a country and western singer, Pratt resumes his life as a service station attendant. Offered a television audition in exchange for transporting two cars, Norwood accepts, hoping to collect in New York $70 owed him by Marine comrade Joe William Reese. En route companion Yvonne Phillips informs Pratt that the vehicles are stolen, and the pair is pursued by police. Abandoning the auto, the veteran hitchhikes to New York, only to find Reese departed to Old Carthage, Arkansas, and his apartment now occupied by hippie student Marie. Singing in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, Norwood finds its patrons indifferent to his ballad about an auto repossessor. On a southbound bus he meets Rita Lee Chipman, whose destination is Jacksonville, North Carolina, where she hopes to marry Marine T. E. B. Walker. In Jacksonville, however, Walker rejects her proposal. Accompanied by midget Edmund B. Ratner and Joann the Wonder Hen, Rita Lee and Pratt travel to Old Carthage. While visiting Reese, Rita Lee informs Pratt that she is pregnant, but declines his offer of marriage. Upon returning to Ralph the friends are confronted by the indecisive Walker, who beats Pratt and departs with Rita Lee. As Pratt auditions, however, he espies Rita Lee returning, having realized her love for him.