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In the trenches of the Verdun front during World War I, Captain Jim Flagg and Sergeant Harry Quirt, rivals in love and other endeavors, shake hands before an attack on the enemy, although Quirt stipulates, "if we pull through, this don't go." The attack succeeds, and after the war, Flagg and Quirt, to whom scrapping is second nature, rejoin the Marines. After escapades in the Philippines and China, they wind up on a battleship in the Panama Canal, where mutual name-calling leads Flagg to throw a tomato at Quirt. It hits the commanding officer, and Flagg is thrown in the brig. After their discharge, in Brooklyn, their hometown, Flagg runs a Marine recruiting office with his subordinate Olsen, whose recurring sneezes annoy Flagg, who thinks someone is giving him "the razzberry." Flagg's one recruit is Izzy Kaplan, whose father gets Flagg to promise that he'll look after Izzy. Across the hall, women flock to a beauty parlor run by a Professor Dubois, who, when the joint is raided, Flagg discovers is really Quirt. By threatening to turn Quirt over to the police, Flagg forces him to re-enlist, and thus wins an extra week's furlough for himself. They are next sent on a goodwill cruise to Scandinavia. In Gothenburg, Sweden, at a cafe on Christmas Eve, Flagg flirts with a blonde dancer named Elsa and discovers that the Santa Claus whom she kisses is really Quirt. Elsa's huge sweetheart Olaf then throws Quirt and Olsen through a closed door and Flagg through a wall. Next, in Nicaragua after an earthquake, the Marines help in the relief effort. As Izzy, mortally wounded, lies dying, Flagg promises to make sure that his father gets his insurance money. Flagg then helps dislodge a Marine caught underneath fallen rubble only to discover the man to be Quirt. Their next order takes them to a Mediterranean port, where Flagg finds Elsa, now the favorite in the harem of Prince Hassan, whom she met in Paris. After Quirt tricks Flagg into giving him a boost over the palace wall, Elsa whispers to Quirt what the prince will do to him if he is found there. Nevertheless, she convinces him to stay, and when Flagg arrives, she hides Quirt in a closet and tells him to come out when she meows. Flagg starts to leave when Elsa repeats to him what the prince will do if he is found there, but she implores him to stay. When the prince arrives, Elsa hides Flagg in her bathroom. A real cat then meows, which provokes Quirt to meow back. Flagg, thinking the sound is coming from Elsa, joins in the meows, and Olsen, hiding behind Elsa's door, completes the cat chorus. Hassan finds the three and has his guards, who brandish sharpened knives, chase them. Elsa helps Olsen escape by dressing him in her clothes, while Flagg and Quirt subdue two guards and take their uniforms. They carry the royal chair out of the palace, thinking Elsa is inside, and as they argue about who will take care of her, Olsen's sneeze from inside ends their dispute. As Flagg, Quirt and Olsen parade through town with other Marines, women wave to them.