An actress is discovered by a silent film director; but she marries her leading man, causing the director's career to falter.
In 1913 Mike Connors (Don Ameche) discovers under-study Molly Adair (Alice Faye) in New York and offers her $100 a week to make films in Hollywood. On the train he tells her about the script. Mike directs Molly in a test. Executive Lyle P. Stout (Donald Meek) calls Mike a prop-boy but lets him direct Molly with Buster Keaton (himself), who throws a pie at Molly. Thousands of pies are used in their films. Mike moves from pies to bathing suits but loses his job. Molly goes with him. Mike tells Molly that the picture is a success, and he is starting a production company. Molly meets new actor Nicky Hayden (Alan Curtis). Mike directs a comedy with cops in which Molly and Buster Keaton fall in a mud hole. Mike puts Molly in dramas with Nicky but declines to go to Tijuana with her. Mike tells Dave Spingold (J. Edward Bromberg) to publicize Molly and Nicky as lovers; but they say they are married. Mike tells Molly that she ran out, and he wants her; but she says he never said so. Mike tells Dave to cancel the contracts of Molly and Nicky. In New York they are offered double their salary; but Nicky says they are staying with Mike.
Mike hires famous authors and directs a Roman spectacle but has problems. Dave tells Mike they are out of money. Mike rejects Rin Tin Tin. Dave quits and manages Molly and Nicky. Mike directs for another studio but quits the picture. At a party for Molly and Nicky's fifth anniversary Mack Sennett (himself) speaks, and Molly sees Mike leave. Molly asks Dave to let Mike direct her next picture. Mike directs with his cameraman Pete Tinney (Stuart Erwin) and is impersonal with Molly. On a Malibu location Mike learns that Nicky was killed in a car wreck, and he visits injured Molly. Roberts (Russell Hicks) tells Mike and Dave of talkies and orders the picture finished without Molly. Mike quits, is persuaded to reconsider by Dave, but then is fired by Roberts, who says he was hired for charity. Mike goes to see The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. Mike tells Molly that he was wrong. He says he stole the film negatives and asks her to talk in the picture. They complete the film, and people like it. In the final scene Mike, Molly, and Dave look over the city of Hollywood.
The history of Hollywood in the silent-film era is depicted
in this unfulfilled romance. The ambition of the director to further
his career is somewhat based on the unrequited love silent star
Mabel Normand felt for her director Mack Sennett.