Based on John Marquand's novel, after twenty years of marriage a businessman looks back at his life and the other woman he loved.
Henry M. Pulham (Robert Young) follows his morning routine to his job. Harvard classmate Bo-Jo Brown (Leif Erickson) urges Henry to write his class biography. Henry starts with his birth, and his father John Pulham (Charles Coburn) puts him in a private school.
Henry gets a call from married Marvin Myles Ransome (Hedy Lamarr) to meet; but when he sees her, he leaves and sends her roses. Henry's wife Kay (Ruth Hussey) gives him instructions and asks if he is happy.
At Harvard Henry plays football with Bo-Jo, but Bill King (Van Heflin) is cynical. Henry takes Bill home, where his mother (Fay Holden) has invited Kay for lunch. In the war Henry and his men refuse to surrender. Bill gets Henry a job in advertising working with Marvin. She and Henry sell soap by demonstrating it door to door. They drink with Bill at a speakeasy, and boss J. T. Bullard welcomes Henry to the team. Marvin helps Henry pack, and he kisses her good-bye.
While playing golf, John Pulham advises his son Henry to marry. Henry's sister Mary (Bonita Granville) smokes; his mother is ill; and his father wants him back. Henry tells Marvin he loves her. Kaufman (Charles Halton) tells Marvin and Henry their ad needs sex appeal. J. T. promotes Marvin, and she invites Henry to celebrate. They go dancing, but she is not yet ready to marry. At a football game they meet Kay. Henry gets a call his father is dying and goes home. Henry takes over his father's stocks and reads a letter from Marvin. Mary persuades him not to go to New York; but he invites Bill and Marvin to Boston. Drinks of Mary and Marvin are hidden from the butler Hugh (David Clyde) so mother won't know. Marvin meets Henry's mother, who approves. Kay and Joe Bingham (Phil Brown) come over. Marvin says that Henry will stay in Boston, and she likes working in New York. Kay likes Bill, and jealous Joe tells Henry that she broke it off with him.
Henry goes to New York to marry Marvin; but she won't give up her career, and he won't marry that. She tells him she will always be waiting for him. Henry goes sailing with Kay, and they console each other. Henry weds Kay, who wonders if they really love each other. Henry folds up his class biography. At breakfast he asks Kay to go away with him, but she says she is too busy. At the office Henry calls Marvin; he goes to her apartment and kisses her. He says he has a boy and a girl, and she says her husband looks like him. They realize they can't go back. Kay finds Henry and says they do love each other, and in the car she takes him away.
This realistic drama portrays a man following his family
tradition while giving up a deeper love for a woman with a career.
He and the audience question whether his comfortable routine was
better than the passion he gave up.