powered by AFI
After the war, Captain Stephen Sorrell returns home, only to have his wife Dora denounce him as a failure, and leave him and his young son for another man. Stephen then dedicates his life to rearing his young son, Kit. He tries to maintain his social status before the child, but when a promised job fails to materialize, he confesses their dire financial condition to the boy. Stephen is forced to take a porter position at the Angel Hotel, but when he refuses the advances of the owner, Flo Palfry, she dismisses him. One of the hotel guests, Roland, opens his own hotel, the Pelican, and hires Stephen as the second porter. The first porter, Buck, demeans Stephen, and forces him to do all the work, while Buck collects the tips. Buck gets his due when Roland realizes that he is not trustworthy and dismisses him, and Stephen is made head porter. Famous film stars Ethel and Duncan have a mishap while on their secret honeymoon at the Pelican, which brings the hotel great fame and notoriety. Ethel's life is saved by eminent surgeon Sir Richard Orange, who so impresses the young Kit that the boy pledges to become a surgeon himself some day. With his father's self-sacrifice and toll, Kit fulfills his dream, and becomes Orange's protegee. Sorrell, in the meanwhile, has become Roland's partner in the Pelican. Kit falls in love with young novelist Molly Pentreath, though she refuses to marry him, believing that marriage is too old-fashioned. Dora returns as a wealthy widow, but Kit refuses her attempted reconciliation in loyalty to his father. Kit performs his first operation, and Stephen, nervously watching in the observation booth, collapses, though he tells Orange it was only a case of nerves. While the operation is a success, Kit suffers from blood poisoning due to a defective surgical glove. Stephen and Molly wait in Kit's apartment, as Orange works frantically to save the young man's life. The next morning, Kit recovers and Molly is so overjoyed that she agrees to marry him. Orange then learns that Stephen has long been suffering from an incurable disease. The doctor promises not to reveal Stephen's secret to Kit and Molly as the couple prepares for their wedding. On the honeymoon, however, Orange sends for them, telling them that Stephen is near death. Kit rushes home, only to discover that there is nothing he can do to save his father. Realizing that there is only one thing he can do to relieve his father's pain, Kit skillfully ends his father's life in an act of mercy and love.