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In Pasadena, California, Clifford Groves runs a successful toy manufacturing business and goes home each night to his wife Marion and three children, Vinnie, Ellen and Frankie. On Marion's birthday, Cliff offers her an evening of dinner and theater, only to find that she is too busy with the children's schedule to take the night off. By dinnertime, Marion and the kids have rushed off to their various dates, leaving Cliff alone with a warmed-over meal. Just then, Norma Miller Vale, a former co-worker whom Cliff has not seen in twenty years, arrives to visit. Norma has grown into a stunning, cosmopolitan woman with a flourishing fashion design business, and a charmed Cliff invites her to share his theater tickets. After the theater, she asks to visit his office, where she admires his latest toy, a wind-up robot, and reminisces with him about the innocent dates they shared in the past. When Norma asks if he is happy now, Cliff hesitates a moment before saying yes. Upon returning home that night, Cliff tries to tell Marion about his night, but she is too tired to listen. The next weekend, Cliff cheerfully prepares for a weekend get-away with Marion, his first in years. Just before they are to leave for a resort in Palm Valley, California, however, Frankie twists her ankle and Marion insists on staying home with her. In response to Marion's proposal that he go alone, Cliff schedules a business meeting in Palm Valley and drives to the inn. There, just as he discovers that his meeting has been cancelled, he bumps into Norma, who is also on vacation for the weekend. They go horseback riding that day and dance all night, and soon Cliff feels so carefree and exhilarated that he convinces her to stay on an extra night. At dinner, Norma discusses her failed marriage, revealing that there has been no one in her life since the divorce. The next day, Vinnie, with his girl friend Ann and two other friends, drives to Palm Valley to see Cliff. They arrive and immediately catch sight of Cliff and Norma laughing intimately, and Vinnie suspects the worst. Although Ann warns him not to jump to conclusions, he insists that they leave at once, and at home, confides in Ellen about what he has seen. Even after Cliff comes home and immediately tells Marion all about Norma, the kids do not trust him, and cringe when he then invites Norma for dinner the following night. Before the dinner, Cliff picks Norma up at her apartment, and when her purse spills open, he sees an old photograph of him and realizes that she has feelings for him. At dinner, Vinnie abruptly leaves the table after Norma tells Ellen that love sometimes requires patience, and although Cliff is furious, Ellen also rudely refuses to talk to Norma. Ann rushes after Vinnie to tell him that he is acting like a suspicious child, but he turns away from her. Norma graciously leaves early, and later when Cliff tries to confront his children, they will not speak to him. Marion defends them, inciting Cliff to accuse her of coddling them. He then announces that he is tired of feeling like his wind-up robot and being taken for granted, but Marion remains unconcerned, pointing out that a life full of adventure would be exhausting. Later, she suggests that Norma is lonely and envies their home and family, and then falls asleep. Cliff sneaks out of the room, and Vinnie returns home just in time to hear his father urge Norma to meet him the following night. The next day, Marion and Ann visit Norma's bustling studio to try on clothes, and Ann struggles to find the right words to reveal Vinnie's qualms to Norma. Norma understands immediately and cancels her appointment with Cliff. Later, Ann breaks up with Vinnie because of his immature behavior, after which Vinnie watches through the window as his father comes home, grows increasingly restless, and rushes out the door again. Cliff interrupts Norma's business meeting to confess his love, explaining that he knows she feels the same way. She kisses him but then dissolves in tears, and asks him to give her a day to think. The next night, Norma hears a knock, and believing it is Cliff, joyously opens her door, only to find Vinnie and Ellen. When they accuse her of having an affair with Cliff, she charges them with having neglected him for years, until he was forced to look outside his family for love. Softening, she tells Ellen that young love can be reckless, but a mature lover cares more for her beloved than for herself. Ellen tearfully begs Norma not to take her father away, and soon after, Norma goes to Cliff's office to tell him they cannot be together. He tries to argue with her, but she paints an image of a future in which he cannot bear to be cut out of his children's lives and longs to talk to Marion again, and reminds him of what a wonderful life he has to lose. She cries and races off, and although Cliff tries to follow, she disappears into the rain. Soon after, Vinnie reveals to Ann that she was right all along and he has finally learned how to love and expect nothing in return. He goes home just as Cliff arrives, and Vinnie and Ellen note Cliff's solemn gaze as he turns his face to the window and watches a plane flying overhead. Although the kids remain busy and distracted, they smile when Marion checks to see if Cliff is feeling better, and he takes her arm and tells her no one knows him as well as she does.