A struggling success institute finds a lazy failure to use as an example; but his relaxation techniques work better than their methods.
Dwight Dawson (Don Ameche) has the Dawson Success Institute, puts off creditors, and asks Claire Harris (Lynn Bari) and Horace Hunter (Edward Everett Horton) about their advertising . Claire suggests they find the greatest failure and make him a success, and they select the laziest as the winner of their contest. Tad Page (Henry Fonda) gets $500 but declines their success, telling Dwight and Claire he is happy. Dwight gets Claire to show Tad around New York by promising her a honeymoon. At a restaurant Tad sees lonely millionaire James Roger Barker (George Barbier), invites him to join them, and tells him how to relax. Claire calls a photographer and Dwight.
The next morning Claire tells Dwight that Tad is holding out, but Barker retired to go fishing. Tad calls his mom to say he is staying because of Claire. Tad tells new students they don't need the course. So Claire takes him for a walk. She has a headache, and he relaxes her neck; she falls asleep. Tad tells her he is in love with Hazel back home. Dwight tells Tad that a man needs a good job to get a woman to marry him. Tad learns that Claire is in love with someone too. He tells Dwight and Horace that he won't take the course, because he is in love with Claire. Dwight and Horace persuade Tad he has a chance if he tries. On Dwight's birthday Claire tells him of a magazine article and a job she found for Tad. Friends arrive, followed by Tad. Dwight and Horace try to keep Tad from learning about Dwight and Claire, destroying the cake.
Dwight persuades Claire to let Tad apply on his own for the job she got him. Tad asks her for luck and invites her out for dinner. Tad puts on an assertive personality for Peters and gets the job, but no one buys the insurance he is selling. Dwight and Horace coach Tad on how to sell it, and he tries to sell them, wearing them down. They send Tad to Frank Mitchell (Harry Hayden), who asks for a $250,000 policy but has high blood pressure. Dwight shows Horace the magazine. Tad takes Claire out to see the fire engine he is buying, and she likes fire engines too. Tad tells Claire he loves her and gives her a ring; but she says for five years it has been Dwight. Tad learns that Mitchell has high blood pressure and gets him to relax. The doctor passes Mitchell, and he signs the policy. Tad goes to Dwight and hears Claire arguing with him for his sake. Claire gets a ride on Tad's fire engine, and in the final scene Dwight is teaching people how to relax.
This prophetic comedy satirizes the nascent success
industry that strives to make people more ambitious but also shows
the relaxation antidote to that artificial stress.