Adapted from Charles L. Clifford's novel, a boy runs away from a hostile home and finds a school teaching poor children music; he gets help from the violinist Jascha Heifetz.
Frankie (Gene Reynolds) and others steal a dime from a kid, and Frankie gets no dinner. He pawns his father's violin. He and Limey (Terry Kilburn) find tickets and attend a concert of Jascha Heifetz (himself); Limey leaves, but Frankie is entranced. He gets his violin back; but his step-father (Arthur Hoyl) destroys it. Frankie runs away to avoid reform school. He shines shoes and buys a hot dog, giving some to a dog that follows him. Frankie finds a music school with Lawson (Walter Brennan) conducting an orchestra of kids. Frankie shows he can identify notes by ear. Ann Lawson (Andrea Leeds) says he doesn't have to pay. Peter McCarthy (Joel McCrea) in a music store is fired by Flower (Porter Hall) for helping poor kids. Willie tells Frankie that detectives are looking for him, and Frankie has to give Willie his dime. During rain Frankie hides in Lawson's room and says he ran away. Lawson lets Frankie sleep there. Flower and Menkin ask Ann for their money. Peter tells Ann he solicited and got $25. Frankie asks for money on the street as the kids play. Heifetz stops and sends a film of himself playing that the students watch. Peter tells Flowers that Heifetz will play at the school's concert.
A telegram from Heifetz's manager (Paul Harvey) discourages Ann and Peter. His old gang finds Frankie. Escaping a cop, Frankie jumps a fence and hurts his ankle. Limey and two other boys go to Heifetz. His manager won't let them see Heifetz, but Limey steals his violin. Flower learns that Heifetz is not playing and demands his instruments. Peter has mothers guard the door. Frankie and Limey learn that Heifetz's $70,000 violin was stolen. Frankie takes it and calls from a pool hall; but the manager sends the police, who arrest Frankie. Mothers check tickets but keep a sheriff deputy out. Flower sends for police. Frankie's mom (Marjorie Main) finds him. Limey comes in and confesses he took it. Peter is released. Heifetz arrives for his violin. Frankie pleads with Heifetz and faints. Mothers refuse to let police come in; but Ann says to let them in, and they allow the music to finish. While Lawson speaks, instruments are taken. Frankie brings Heifetz, and he plays. In the final scene the orchestra plays with Heifetz.
Outstanding classical music highlights this drama in
which those helping poor children to develop their musical talents
have to struggle with economic realities.