Adapted from the novel and play by Harry Leon Wilson, a wife hopes an earl's valet will give her husband culture, but in America the valet decides to become a self-made man.
In 1908 Paris Egbert Floud (Charles Ruggles) tells his wife Effie (Mary Boland) he doesn't want a valet even though they won him in a poker game. The Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young) says good-bye to Ruggles (Charles Laughton). Effie orders Egbert's check clothes burned, and she takes him shopping with Ruggles. Egbert takes Ruggles to a cafe, where he takes notes on art to show Effie. He manages to get Ruggles to sit down with him. Egbert greets his old friend Jeff wildly, and they drink whiskey. Ruggles lets out a yell.
Effie, Egbert, and Ruggles take a train to Red Gap, Washington and are met by Charles Belknap-Jackson (Lucien Littlefield) and Egbert's Ma (Maude Eburne). Effie sends Egbert and Ruggles to the newspaper office with an article, but they go to a beer bust of Nell Kenner (Leila Hyams). Egbert calls Ruggles colonel, and a reporter interviews the foreigner. Ruggles meets Prunella Judson (Zasu Pitts) and dances with her. Effie sends Belknap-Jackson to get Ruggles. When he kicks Ruggles, Ruggles kicks him back. Effie is going to dismiss Ruggles until she sees the news article on the new celebrity. Ruggles calls on Prunella and shows her how he can cook. When Egbert and his Ma leave for their ranch, Belknap-Jackson fires Ruggles, giving him a train ticket to San Francisco. Ruggles goes to a saloon for a meal and runs into Egbert and Ma, who say he is not fired. Ruggles asks to be relieved from service so that he can make something of himself in the land of opportunity. No one knows what Lincoln said at Gettysburg, but Ruggles recites the moving words. Prunella suggests that Ruggles open a restaurant. However, Effie tells Ruggles that the Earl is coming. Ruggles is uncertain, and Prunella says he is not a man. Egbert and the Earl escape Effie's dinner party by climbing out the window, calling on Nell. Nell ties the Earl's tie and sings "Pretty Baby" while he plays the drums. Ruggles comes in and tells the Earl he has changed and will stay in Red Gap to open a restaurant.
At the opening of the Anglo-American Grille Prunella helps Ruggles. The Earl comes in late and shows Nell's engagement ring to Effie. Belknap-Jackson quarrels with Ruggles, who asks him to leave and then throws him out. In the final scene the people sing "He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to Ruggles.
This culture clash between wild western behavior and aristocratic gentility offers delightful comedy as Egbert and eventually Ruggles shatter the phony expectations of Effie and Belknap-Jackson. The theme of American freedom and equality as compared to old-world class distinctions is aptly illustrated.